This week I purchased a car, against my will, due to the untimely demise of my semi-reliable 2003 Honda Civic. This will be my first “big loan” I have ever endeavored to pay. So you can imagine the intensity of feelings going about the Warren apartmenthold. There were many signatures, many squiggly lines, on digital and paper mediums. This, incidentally, provoked something in me today while I was on my way to church: the nature of signatures, instances of them in nature and society, and what they ultimately mean in various contexts.
Signatures are official. They afford a sense of ownership or liability (or both). Typically I sign about 20 forms a day on average, be they while shopping or while installing software on a client’s machine. The EULA (End-User License Agreement) is probably the most common. Another is the Acceptable Use Policy, when signing into a server (intimating the credentialing requirements for the user signing in). In other situations, for instance when signing a check or loan contract, signatures are also an admonition of responsibility.
This then suggests the binding nature of a contract, typically concluded with a signature. A contract infers that the signatory (the one who signs) will meet the requirements of a bargain, or face consequences (financially or legally) when they don’t.
The need for there to be something like a signature is, make no mistake, branded into us. (Considering both evolutionary and sociological systems.) Tribalism begets ownership, to declare sovereignty. From cave dwellings to gang graffiti nothing has changed. In sexual politics, likewise, feminism and chauvinism are methods, ultimately to claim dominance over another—control, as much as ownership, is just the means to declare freedom of purpose. In order to make a declaration, there needs to be a signature. To even put it crudely, the existence of something called a “money shot” (please don’t look it up), is proof of the biological origination of the signature and that it is as bestial as a dog pissing on a fence.
So far signatures carry a negative connotation, one that is permeated with ideas of control, dominance, ownership, and consequence. I had difficulty coming up with examples of instances when signatures had good intentions. A marriage contract is an acknowledgement of a union, I assume for tax purposes. In religion, of the Judeo-Christian variants, a contract is not really present. A covenant is not a contract, because the agreement does not terminate when one or both parties fail to meet the criterion specified. A signature is used, either ritually or liturgically, but a covenant ultimately is about what a person will commit to. On either side, the required action proceeds outward, onto another.
Maybe the reason for all this is the anxiety and trepidation I feel about loans is the uncertainty of being able to pay them? And when I get scared I react by "being strong," which by my definition is reading books and acquiring knowledge. It's like, if I know more about something, maybe I will be able to control my destiny that much more. I can't even watch television without getting stressed, hoping the guy gets the girl, that everything will be okay. That's this whole week. (I could write a whole blog on it. Maybe I should?) Excuse the sudden outburst. It's tangential. My whole life I have been hurt with misinformation, with people misleading me to conclude wrongly about something. I never expected to write about signatures today, but behind every signature is a statement and an agreement. What if I don't know what will happen next? My psychiatrist has encouraged me to think "So What?" statements instead of "What If? statements, and that has helped a lot.
"What if I need to buy a new car?"
"So what if I buy a car? It's a common life event that everyone experiences, rich and poor, and I have nothing to fear. God takes care of me and loves me and shows me that he has helped with bills before. He will again."
See what I did up there? That's me taking advantage of the moment. That's my queue to lie down for a little while...