Sometimes one needs to be known without being recognized. Once there was the confession booth, where you could unburden yourself to God, or, more precisely, to one of His representatives. Whoever first designed the confessional must have known that it was made up of only one component: the dividing cloth. Without that, it’s just a room; with the cloth, we can pretend it’s an empty room. Strange, though, that in a world then thought to be imbued down to its particles with the presence of an all-knowing, all-seeing God, we should have needed a scrap of fabric to protect us from a pair of human eyes.
Here in Claremont, we have a Facebook page. Go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9P2P7GG, fill in the single box that, like one of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisitors, orders you to “Confess here,” and your confession will be rerouted not to the Lord, but to Claremont Confession’s Timeline. Unlike the confessions of old, everyone will hear it. The anonymous contents of your heart will appear, conveniently, at the top of everyone’s news feeds. And if you click the “Like” button, you too may become one of them, leisurely scrolling through the collected secrets of the 5Cs.
They look much like the secrets of any group of humans. There are love stories and jokes and tragedies, pleas for understanding, emotional outpourings, anecdotes of frustration or confusion, ersatz bits of philosophy, and blatant fakes. There are many, many complaints. There are trivial problems and monumental issues and one masquerading as the other. Read in its entirety, Claremont Confession is like the unsigned diary of some massive collective soul that secretly hopes someone will pick the thing up for publication. This is what’s different about our confessions: We don’t really want them to be secret at all. Else, why publish them on Facebook? We are all waiting for someone to rip away that dividing cloth, look at our faces, and know us. But because we are so scared of each other, none of us wants to be the first to reach for it.
None of these confessions are unmentionable. There is nothing here too intimate, strange, or scandalous to be unworthy of communication. In fact, they’re exactly what we need to tell each other, and what we need to hear. These problems, unspoken, will go unsolved; these knotty feelings, unrecognized, will never be untangled. Communicating isn’t necessarily an instant solution, but it is the first step toward one. But we, the supposed oversharers, updaters of statuses, and senders of tweets, are saying nothing.
So, right now, think of something you can never say to anyone. Now think of all the people you know and choose one person you are going to tell it to. Scared? You should be. Say it anyway. It won’t kill you. And afterward, when you’ve realized you’re going to live, you will feel just a little bit less afraid and just a little bit freer.