Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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On Falling Out of Love

What right do other people have to tell me how I ought to feel??? I cannot understand this. Surely they should limit themselves to telling me how I ought behave with them. That much, I could deal with - I understand how to take instructions and behave in the ways that will make people comfortable. I desire to make people comfortable; I would appreciate receiving instructions on how I could do it better, because lately I've been having to do far too much wild guessing. But I cannot understand being commanded about what I should feel. Feelings are like beliefs: you can put a gun to my head and command me to vote for George W. Bush, and I'd behave accordingly (hey, it's not like my vote against him would matter anyway); but putting a gun to my head and commanding me to believe he's a good president does not give me any ability to believe that at all, no matter if you do have a mind-reading machine to thoroughly terrify me into trying to believe it to save my life.

It is not that my feelings are not a choice, it is just that the word "choice" does not imply that you are able, unless you are completely insane, to bring yourself to choose a path in complete contradiction to the available evidence. I have a choice about whether to get up out of my chair at this moment and go deliberately drive my car into a telephone pole at 60 miles per hour or not, but in the absence of any evidence to persuade me that it wouldn't painfully injure me and make me extremely unhappy for quite a long time afterward, I'm not actually insane enough to be able to really bring myself to do it.

My feelings and my political beliefs and my (lack of) religion are all choices because I have the ability to choose to go research and look for evidence to persuade me to change my choice of religion or politics or feelings, or else to choose not to go look for any further evidence. But if I do go looking for the evidence to convince me to change any choice I've made and there just plain isn't any such evidence, I am not insane enough to be able to bring myself to go choose to drive into that telephone pole.
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