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 the political landscape, I would be able to find better ways of articulating my anger, my almost boundless frustration.
Something is wrong, someone is wrong, and I do not know if it’s me. That’s what I would think before writing another unpublished satire, essay, poem, you name it. I feel as though I’ve only just started to seriously consider making more of my work public and now something has me pulling back- hard. 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; increasingly tired of beat-around-the-bush safe space conversations; enraged that my deep-rooted concerns for creative and liberal exclusionary landscapes have manifested into a resentment of writing- my writing; and I am broken by the unrelenting despair of change and blame, to which social media, social movements, and institutions now worship.
I have a 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 an email from The Guardian to find yet another long list of news stories detailing sexual assaults by actors, directors, and MP’s. 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, because I really am done with sensationalized trauma.
As victims, 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, at times screaming for it. Is this really visibility? Sure, it’s bringing a lot of awareness to an issue and a movement, but there’s something darker happening here, and at the end of the day, I am finding myself absolutely resenting the convoluted mess of intentions and agendas behind these media releases. I feel like 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. We are entitled in our pain to the point of assuming 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 are pursuing wide spread manuals and social protocols for conversation and social positioning, not to mention tip-toe tactics that make it incredibly difficult to communicate across divides, and don’t even get me started on the rampage that is blind fear of insensitivity.
In other words, 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.
I am not sure it has ever been more difficult to find personal forgiveness, redemption, and healing, not when your actions could make their way onto the world stage for judgement.
Here’s why I say this. 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 few 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 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 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. 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 self-entitlement cost me relationships, 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. They’re not the most noticeable thing about me and I don’t ever want that to change, my adversities do not define me. 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- no possibility- for change, healing, and forgiveness. You reap what you sow, I really do believe that. So I won’t do it. I won’t carry hate and fear. And I won’t support a cause that asks me to do exactly that.