Monday, April 15, 2013

words about things

I read a lot of blogs.

Some are about relatively lighthearted topics (fashion!  interior decorating!  cooking!), but most are about social justice.  About what's really awesome in this world, and what's heartwrenchingly terrible about it.  Blogs with magnificent writers who refuse to look away from the horror, and instead face it head-on, fully experiencing and showcasing the despair and the pain and the glimmers of hope. 

This world is full of so, so, so much despair and terrible.  

And I deliberately expose myself to the knowledge of the terrible.  

I've been asked why I do that.  Why would a person choose to feel awful, to despair about the world, to sink occasionally into depression or rage?  Wouldn't it be easier to just avoid looking at the terrible?

Yes.  Yes it would.  It would be much easier, and probably much more pleasant. 

But I can't do that.  Something in me demands to know, to look at it, to face it.  I absolutely cannot simply go about my first-world life, blissful in my ignorance of the marginalization and oppression and violence that goes on in the world and in my name as a white, straight, cis USian.  I refuse to hide from reality.  I refuse to simply tolerate the terrible all around me.  I refuse to disable my empathy.  

I have so much to learn, and I'm awkward in dealing with some topics, and I mess up.  And I will keep learning, and I will seek to get better, and I will continue messing up.  Because it's what I can do.  I may not know many things about where I'm going and what I want and what's possible, but the very least I can do is look.  And see.  See the suffering, see the injustice, see the terrible.  Acknowledge it.  

It may not seem like much.  And part of it, maybe, is a little self-centered.  Hey, look at me everybody, I'm bothering to pay attention!  Aren't I the greatest?  That's a really shitty perspective that at the very least presupposes that simply not being terrible is prerequisite enough for decency, and it's not

Because it’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself.  ---Joss Whedon 

For me, this is about integrity, and growth, and decency.  I can have all the good intent in the world, and it's worth precisely jack shit unless I express it thoughtfully and responsibly.  On some deep level I really need to connect with people, to see them, to understand, to appreciate the good stuff and own up to the shitty stuff.  To lean into my discomfort instead of running away from it.  Even if it's not something that has a measurable impact on the world, it's what I can do to improve my own mind, my own little corner of the universe.  And maybe tell a few other people about stuff, and maybe they'll get it a little and see what's going on and feel.  

And that's not nothing. 

It's a tiny little step.  But it's my teaspoon, and this is what I know I can do right now.  Maybe I'm wildly unrealistic, and maybe my tiny little stance in my tiny little corner of the universe is ultimately inconsequential.  But I choose to believe that this matters.  And that's my choice.

I realized in college that one of the core tenets of my being is the need to be somehow useful to the world.

I realized a few months ago that another basic component of who I am is the need to connect.  To truly see people.  To interact with my world.  

Hello there.  I see you.  I get you.  I care. 

Learn with me.

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