When I was a kid, I knew the rules to all the board games we owned. I read the fine print. In fact, I'm still one of those people who reads the fine print. I like to know the sandbox in which I'm playing, and I like to know just how that sandbox operates. We are no longer a society led by a guy who was raised to the position of leader because he can clobber everyone else. We aren't listening to what Crog of the Mighty Thighs has to say, because while he might be the guy you want when a sabertooth tiger is chasing you, he's not exactly up on the notions of logic or reason.
We're a society whose wealthiest individuals got that way because of their ideas, their brains, their ingenuity - and their ability to work their asses off while getting incredibly lucky. Intellect is the club of the modern era. Double entendre intended, for it is both a club of the intellectual elite, and the club with which those elite beat the rest of society over the head.
I liked to tell people, in younger years (though not so young that I can't see them still over my shoulder), that I read the encyclopedia for fun while growing up. This is both true and untrue. It is true in the sense that I read the encyclopedia in my off time, and it's even true that I got some joy out of it. However, the bit that I left out, the bit that took me a while to realize, was that there was another reason I read the encyclopedia: Pride.
The pride of being able to point out facts to people that, for the most part, were apropos of nothing being currently discussed. I still do this, as it's a hard habit to break. When someone brings up a singer, I'll comment on some obscure fact about them, something related to them, or possibly about how birds don't flap their wings up and down, but rather in a circular motion. See? Apropos of nothing. Not germane to the conversation. I do it with words, too. (Thus, the Word of the Day segment on the show.) I love learning new words. Partly because I love language, and partly because using words other people have to look up gives my ego the thrill of superiority.
I've had some wake up calls recently. If you'll recall, I took a mental break from being Fire Lyte for the month of June. That month was filled with Aha! moments through and through, some of which I'm only now beginning to mentally unpack, much like when you dream you wrote this amazing song or created this brilliant painting only to completely forget it upon waking yet remember bits and pieces at a later time.
Something I've been in the process of unpacking is the way I've used my intellect as a weapon, holding people to the kind of standard that just isn't realistic, that nobody could possibly reach 100% of the time. That, honestly, I don't reach most of the time, if I ever did/do. I realized that I've parsed facts and split hairs and played games of semantics on issues that didn't call for any of that. I'm not running for office. I'm not on trial for sexual misconduct. I don't need to question what the definition of 'is' is.
Sorry... I digress. Sometimes I get my life confused with Bill Clinton's.
I realized, for example, that I spent quite a bit of time playing this odd game of finger pointing with Jason Pitzl-Waters of the Wild Hunt blog. At the time I truly thought I was in the right, like I'd made this giant intellectual discovery and needed to shout it from the mountain tops. Looking back, the way I handled my disagreements with his coverage of certain events/issues came off as trite, as petty. It served to create a division, however small, in the community. While I don't agree with everything he says, I am absolutely positive that the community is bettered by him doing what he does. Because we are such a tiny subset of the populace, it is imperative that folks like Jason or Star Foster maintain a positive, challenging, intellectual voice online.
So, to Jason and Star and a host of other people, I'd like to say publicly (because Lord knows I've aired enough dirty laundry publicly, that this merits doing where people can see it) that I'm sorry. Truly. I say this with humility and without any expectation.
Rioters, there are a lot of people out there that dislike Fire Lyte. I say Fire Lyte, because I realized during my aforementioned break that we're sort of two separate people. We have to be. If I were to take the things people say about my online persona personally, as something about me...well...I'd never sleep. For the most part, if you ask someone why they dislike Mr. Lyte, it's because of something I wrote or a show I created a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. It's because of the way I used to wrongly handle situation after situation that I gained this reputation for being a brash, loud, wannabe know-it-all who made himself feel superior by putting others down. Or, at least, that's how some saw me.
Again, looking back, I can see that. Though, of course, I can also see that many people over the years have put words in my mouth, have made assumptions about my intentions when I said this or that. And, of course, that hurts. But I suppose one wouldn't have existed without the other.
For the past year or so I've done quite a bit to evolve the Riot, to grow up, as it were. There hasn't been any name calling or undue finger pointing or, I hope, excessive shows of useless knowledge for the sake of appearing smarter than most. Some of it was intentional, but most of it was a byproduct of growing up. I do that, you see. Grow. We all do. We're not the same people we were when we were 23, which was when many of you came to know me as Fire Lyte, which was when I created many of the articles that have so incensed those folks that would much rather I end the Riot forever.
Two things should be accepted here:
- I acknowledge that more often than not, my tenure as Fire Lyte has been marked by pretentious, ostentatious shows of 'intellect' for the sake of clubbing people over the head and/or stroking some part of my ego.
- To those of you out there that really, really despise me: much, if not all, of what you dislike me for was said quite a long time ago - or was never said at all, but, rather, assumed. It was when I was 23 or 24 or 25. Young. Not young enough that I can claim total ignorance of my actions, but young enough that is still very much in the bracket of 'that time in your life when you say and do stupid things because you're young and stupid'.
I realized that who I want to be is a force for good in the pagan community. I want to be the guy who came up with Project Pagan Enough, and then lived up to that standard. I want to be the guy who can admit when he's wrong, and keep his mouth shut when appropriate. I also realized that I've not always actually been that guy, and that I'm still learning how. I also acknowledge that sometimes the choices you make internally aren't seen by others unless you tell them. So, I'm telling you.
This is the last vestige of my ignominious early years as Fire Lyte, of my time when I thought finger pointing was a helpful attribute and a fun quirk of my character. It wasn't. It was asinine. And, again, I'm sorry.
I felt this needed to be said publicly, because I've definitely pointed enough fingers publicly, and I think it's an important step in the continued growth of the Riot.
Love and Lyte,