John Boston | Justification: The Devil Who Lives Within

John Boston

When I taught Santa Clarita history a few months after the crust of the earth cooled, I’d start every semester by writing this on the chalkboard: “A man can live three weeks without food, three days without water and 20 minutes without a justification.”

That’s pretty much the story of history, local or otherwise. You may all go home now.

Whether we’re swigging down that ninth peach margarita or conquering Gall, we’re pretty much powerless to stop the sneezing of justifications. Some of the more popular ones throughout the ages are: 

“It’s for their own good.” Or:

“Them French. They had it coming.” Or: 

“Sure it’s hideous-looking, cramped and shreds human self-esteem, but this townhouse comes with a rec room!”

Don’t believe me? TRY — dare you — TRY going 20 minutes without a justification. Seriously. You’ll be surprised, if not embarrassed, ashamed and amused.

Sort of like dating in college.

Shining light on this perverse inner swamp can be most wiggle-making. My contrite apologies to whomever I may have married in this or any previous lifetime dating back to when I was a single-cell organism, but I look back and am appalled that one of my top reasons for exchanging wedding vows was, “Don’t wanna do it, but this’ll help me grow up . . .”

All those poor girls. All those poor girls with THEIR justifications (like, “If I roll up my sleeves and with a good wind behind me, I just KNOW I can change him…”). 

We should come equipped with floating neon signs on our heads, to warn people about ourselves. They’d carry messages like: “EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE,” “PSYCHO,” “KLEPTOMANIAC” or “LUTHERAN.”

Just kidding about the Lutherans. They’re kind enough to have never sent a letter to the editor in all my years of teasing them.

Funny though. If we DID have glowing signs floating three inches above our noggins, would that clarify the blindness of not so much love, but lust and fantasy?

Probably not.

Here’s one for you. Sex doesn’t make babies. Justification makes babies. “This feels so right, what could go wrong?” Or, “One of us is probably not ovulating.”

Go. Buy. A. Lottery. Ticket.

For. You. Have. 


Already. Won.

If Justification is a Marvel Comic super villain, then his identical cousin has to be Unintended Consequences. Unintended Consequences is like stepping on a rake, real darn hard, without thinking things through.

A few years back, I read a study that poo-poohed an old American myth: That if you build more roads, you’ll ease traffic congestion. A noble justification, backed by billions in infrastructure, platitudes and ribbon cuttings. Several studies have pointed out that the more roads you build, the more congested becomes your community.

Here’s a good one: Technology will make our lives easier.

Well. Yes…

But, technology also makes us more sedentary, narcissistic, easily distracted, sexually addicted, depressed, attached to a Borg-like central computer, unable to relate to those other things that look like me (humans?), Impatient and seeking instant gratification. Thanks to technology, there’s an estimated 34 million people in America between the ages of 17 and 24. Seventy-one percent couldn’t pass an Army physical (unless, of course, we were to “redefine” a push-up).

Dig. Not too deeply. It’s there, The Justification, the devil himself, whispering temptations and accusations: 

“You’ll never be good enough.”

“What’s the use?”

“No one will believe you.”

“You’ll always be ignored.”

If you’re brave enough, if you listen hard enough, you can actually hear the words, not yours, not God’s, Nature’s or Science’s, in origin.

It truly is this satanic figure 8, first making you out to be the helpless victim, then, inciting you to what can become a murderous rage. Ever helpful, it will point and give that handy target of The Other Guy. 

The Other Guy. He’s to blame…

It’s a very old stage play, directed by a Genghis Khan, Adolph Hitler and, absolute worst — something posing as ourselves.

GENGHIS: “Those Chinese. They’ve got our rightful grazing lands.”

ADOLPH: “Those Jews. They caused World War I and have our money.”

US: “Those liberals/conservatives. They’re destroying our nation!!”

Philosophers, seers and saints have warned us for years. Keep the focus on ourselves. 

When I was a little kid, I caught glimpses of a life I wanted to live. I wanted to be both Zorro and a pirate. But, really, it was my spirit’s call to travel, have adventure, take chances, love, serve others, live a swashbuckling life — feel the ocean’s breeze on my face and laugh at danger. Most kids are justification-free. They don’t temper a dream with, “…I’d like to be Zorro, but I don’t want to cause waves or get in trouble…”

Dare you. No. Double-dog dare you. Try that 20-minute experiment. Heck. Try it for THREE minutes. Catch yourself in how many ridiculous and dishonest justifications seep out of you, into the cosmos. 

Be careful.

They’ll come flying back to become the prison of your daily reality…

John Boston is a local writer. Or so he likes to tell himself…

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