A few weeks ago, I subscribed to The Guardian. Read more news, Em, get smart, she said to herself, still in the habit of self talk and third person perspectives after four months in the northern outback of an Alberta lookout tower. I thought that if I was taking more initiative in understanding the ebb and flow of this very damaged world, I would be able to find better ways of articulating my anger, my almost boundless and seemingly unexplainable frustration.
Something is wrong, someone is wrong, this is not me. That’s what I would think before writing another unpublished satire, not even getting halfway through before feeling the need to grow another pair of arms and start another piece. It seems as though my thoughts, my goals, even my daydreams, are short-lived and undermined; I am deeply uncomfortable in all social spheres, highly aware of echo-chambers, while I am becoming increasingly tired of beat-around-the-bush safe space conversations; I am enraged that my deep-rooted concerns for creative and liberal exclusionary landscapes have manifested into a resentment of writing- my writing and my expression; and I am broken by the unrelenting despair of change and forgiveness, to which social media, social movements, and institutions now worship.
I have one thousand and one assignments that were due yesterday (a consequence of cramming too many classes into a very short window with the intentions of saving money- and time. Never enough time), but right now, I am sitting in the basement of my hulking and aged rental in Langford, balancing on one arm, a cat who has picked up the unfortunate habit of meowing (constantly. Literally constantly- I talked too much with him this summer), and typing furiously with the other. About ten minutes ago, I opened up my Guardian email to yet another long list of news stories detailing sexual assaults by actors, directors, and MP’s. The Can Lit fiasco blew up last year and created vast chasms between many Canadian writers, and a trend of “outing” offenders took hold on social media. A few weeks ago, I heard a word of mouth story about a man who committed suicide after a social media “outing”. The war on trauma, sexism, and advocacy has been raging, and I find myself now, in a highly uncomfortable position, one that I am sure will condemn me in the eyes of many.
I am done with sensationalized trauma.
Bite me. Book my one way ticket to hell.
I have enough steam coming out of my ears these days to chug this spazz train all the way there, all by myself.
We are awarding further power and focus to the very figures that have contributed to our own lack of power and focus. We are looking back and asking for an apology and a justice that cannot possibly begin to reconcile the trauma. We are opening up and staring mutely, waiting for the rest of the healing to be found somewhere in the heaping mass of collective rage and blaring media headlines that validate the injustice, entitled in our pain to assume generalizations and turning a blind eye to progress, to change, and to the individual- this is not a society that wants to heal, this is a society that wants to hurt. This is a society that is writhing, broken, and begging for stability, and borders that lend complete and total large scale transparency in the name of “awareness” and “education”. We pursue and hold manuals and social protocols for conversation and social positioning, tip-toe tactics and blind fear of insensitivity-
We are engaging in the complete and utter rejection of what it means to be a single mind, in a single body, limited in compassion and inevitably flawed, influenced by social environments, and born unknowing, destined to learn with growth or drown.
It has never been more difficult, in the history of the world, to find personal forgiveness, redemption, and healing.
Here’s why I say this. We are not talking about genuine and immediate changes that should be made to the education of our youth, promoting understanding, and EMPATHY (I cannot stress this enough, I cannot). We promote blind equality and fairness, which actually work to protect and validate bigoted and prejudice beliefs. We are not spending time condemning those who still believe their private boundaries and beliefs extend over those places and people in the public sphere. We are sticking to our “tolerance of all things” guns. In our pursuit to show the world the regularity of bigotry, misogyny, and racism, we are choosing our sides and demanding unattainable ransoms for our forgiveness, not realizing that we are also forgoing collective healing and reconciliation.
Where fear of speaking out was once rooted in the neglect and alienation of a culture that would support the offender, we, and our children will now learn to censor our thoughts, and our actions out of fear of condemnation, of asking questions and seeking understanding, in the event that we commit unforgivable social blunders- regardless of our intent, our identity, and our background. Who we are- who they will be- does not matter. Nor does community, integration, or healing. We have created a world where there are no second chances, and trauma is a chronic and terminal diagnosis- it is, in fact, the worst thing that could ever happen to you, and it will haunt you.
This is the darker, unspoken, yet implemented, reality of the image I receive from the media, and from the radical policies and safe spaces now prevalent in universities and workplaces.
Maybe this is our new answer to the disappearing fear of god. We are all gods, with our devices and our massive social media platforms. We can find the exact reassuring judgement we want from communities that will blindly condemn, while news providers jump on the new trend of large-scale public disclosure, all of this working to remind you- and others- that in order to find healing and validation, you must find it in both communal consensus, and the utter condemnation of another, blocking any and all avenues of forgiveness, personal growth, and remorse.
I swing, and I bite. Ask mom and dad. Ask the girl who tossed me around in 3rd grade freeze tag, and the kid who picked on my twin in summer camp. I am the last person to roll over in a conflict or an injustice, and my passion- my rage- has always been a curse and a blessing. I have done and said incredibly hurtful things. I have seen red and broken frames I will never be able to fix. I have let pain and the entitlement of healing cost me profound love, stability, and health. I am terrified- and enraged (surprise surprise)- that I live in a world which asks me to publicly condemn and exile individuals (and, what at times seems to be, a whole gender) in such a way that wishes only to blind the other eye with the cultural knife that has already left women in what seems to me, a mass of blood, tears, and pain.
I have scars, we have scars. We bleed everyday. I don’t know how we are supposed to heal, or learn or trust, when in these sensationalized stories of trauma, these social media broadcasts, there is no genuine desire- hell, no possibility- for change, healing, and forgiveness.
I won’t do it. You cannot make me hate.
God, that felt good. Silver lining in writing without resentment- I’ll take it.
All the best,