check out the first post here.
I’ve started an unfortunate habit. Whenever I wish to quote someone, I first google their name. I scroll down the front page, and if all looks well, click on the NEWS tab, just to be sure. Usually within the first page there is something to be said about the person I’m wishing to quote. Something to be said about their moral failures. Something about harm.
It happened. Just now.
I’m having a hard time writing about harm.
I’m having a hard time writing.
I like to make things pretty and nagging. I do not wish to make harm those things. And so my typewriter is a tombstone still, and I am reduced to bird watching. That was Charles Bukowski. I hope it’s okay to quote him.
It seems quite impossible to do no harm. Everything in our lives is soaked in it. Even the pretty things. Perhaps especially the pretty things.
We trust ourselves too much.
We do not walk into a room and consider what harm could be done there. It would be easy for me to create a list of harms and ask us to not engage. But you already know these things. And you already think of yourself either as a person who does these things too often, or a person who does not do these things at all (our pride tends to convert us to extremes).
So I won’t do that. Instead, I’ll ask us to start paying attention. Start slowing down.
Fancy yourself an artist.
Look at the room, the conversation, the encounter, with a discerning eye.
Take into account the narrative. What’s been happening?
Say you got caught in the rain. Say you allowed it to soak your soul the way it soaks your socks. You let it dampen every living part of you. Say you began to cry until your tears mimicked the rain.
Say you can’t catch a break this week. They cancel your favorite television show, but not class, even though the inclement weather leaves leaves on your car. Your neighbor watches Fast & Furious so loud that your mugs shake and you can’t sleep. You’ve only now come to realize that your future is unobtainable and quite a lot of work. You’ve caught an illness. You’ve blown a lightbulb. You’ve lost your wallet. You’ve been fighting with your friend about something inconsiderate they did recently. In fact, you’ve been finding everyone to be inconsiderate recently, which is starting to make grocery shopping and voting day a task.
Now, look at the room again.
How is this narrative affecting the way you look at the room?
Start there. Start with your story, and pay attention to how many times you allow it to excuse you from the harm.
Then, reframe your story.