23rd January 2021

The appearance of my eating avocado toast on this Friday afternoon, a reflection of the penance of fast I have been inclined to follow for much of my life, might suggest some degree of impassioned suffering, however, I must admit that the practice is rather more habitual than any adherence to canons 1250-1253 of the 1983 Code of Canon law.

Suffering, distress, tribulation, anguish, heartache, surely should by necessity be a more egregious penalty than such a convenient, fashionable, and tasty alternative, yet most of the woes and afflictions we so often are inclined, with wholly unsuited pride, to publicly advertise and display are in reality nil but substitutes for the actual guilt we inherently know we rightly bear for oft completely unrelated error and sin.

The habitual use of less extreme alternatives, of surrogates as were, is a very humanistic trait, indeed whom amongst us, with the obvious fetishistic exceptions, would not water down unpleantness, pain, whenever opportunity allowed. Whilst the expression, ‘that which does not kill us, makes us stronger’, might philosophically point to some illuminating truth, the actuality that injury, disfigurement, discomfort, necessarily by rote causes personal growth is unlikely in the extreme.

Substitutions, stand-ins, locums, particularly in respect to matters of personal responsibility ever remind me of the ancient use of the whipping boy, a cunningly contrived, if wholly irrational way of physically chastising an errant schoolboy prince by substituting a commoner to endure the untouchable nobles various licks, spankings, inflictions of corporal punishment. The practice of course was pointless, laddie’s of noble blood invariably having not the slightest sense of empathy towards the unfortunate lowly stand-in.

By accepting unquestioned cowardice, this disinclination towards all things masochistic, the need to dilute penance to imaginable, acceptable extremes, are we truly showing avoidance, circumvention, or rather accept the shortcomings of the beast we are inclined, created, to be.

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