“I don’t see a difference, do you?”
He looked at me with an expression that was blanker than a brand new etch-a-sketch. The simple fact was that he could not make sense of my question. People passed by our table holding their coffee wondering why the heck he looked so lost. I couldn’t help but wonder if they thought I had just told him that I was screwing his wife or something like that; their expressions seemed almost worried that he was about to belt me one. Coltrane belted through the speakers; I was relaxed as could be. I wasn’t trying to start a fight; I was simply curious what the difference was between a religious fanatic we know named, Jim, and an addict we know named, Frank. To me, there is no substantial difference between the two. I just wanted to know what he thought. He never seemed to like either one very much. After a couple songs begun and ended, and after no less than twenty (20) people passed us by, he finally said, “How in the hell could you even say that? Jim’s an alright dude; he just gets on his high horse from time to time. Jim’s hustled and screwed more people than I can count. There’s a huge difference between them!”
Eh, in theory, I thought. The truth was that neither Frank nor Jim had many friends and they both pretty much live for their own needs. They both bug the hell out of me and I’ve had to stop my companion from popping Frank several times. If anything, I figured he’d stick up for before he’d stick up for Frank. Count me surprised. “Look,” I said. “Sure, Jim hustles for his fix and lies about how much and how often he uses. But Frank thinks he’s better than pretty much everyone; I’ve even heard him say that he’s so saved that he doesn’t even remember the last time he sinned.”
“Ok, they’re both irritating, I give you that. But Frank doesn’t have to hustle for his fix, right? You can admit that at least, can’t you?”
“Sure, but Frank and Jim both live for one thing and one thing only: Their own self. Frank dresses it up a bit better, but he’s just as selfish. Ok, so Jim uses dope and hustles for his fix, be he’s not any more selfish than Frank. Their only focus is their own needs, Frank’s needs are dressed better, but I tell you what, they’re no different than Jim’s. The means is different, I grant you, but the reality is that they both live to feed the single point of their own lives. In some ways, Frank’s worse. He actually thinks he’s better than people just because of where he goes to church. At least Jim sticks to his hustle and doesn’t think himself any better than anyone else.”
My companion nodded. “Yeah, I see your point. They’re both all about self and they both bug. Yeah, their means are different, but in the end, maybe there isn’t any difference between a religious fanatic and an addict.”
I didn’t think there was.