Making It Better
It has taken no less than three sources of motivation to help me overcome eight months of writer’s block or extreme procrastination or whatever. First, seeing this video of Rick Mercer’s teen suicide rant; second, setting an intention (verbally to a circle of friends so it’s harder to neglect) to get this blog going again; and third, being challenged by blogger Dan Pearce in this amazing post* to “blog your own bold messages of love. […] Tell those who are different, those who are bullied, and those who need love most right now that you love them”.
*Seriously, go read this, it’s amazing. Even if it means you don’t have time to read my post. I’m okay with that.
So I’m taking up the challenge. And man, this is hard.
It’s not that I find it hard to write in general terms about love, or people who are different. It’s that I want to genuinely challenge myself to reach out to those who I normally wouldn’t – and this is creating a certain cognitive dissonance. I was an awkward bullied weirdo kid myself, and I lived through it and grew stronger, and as a result I like to think of myself as some kind of defender of the world’s underdogs… so it’s hard for me to admit that there are still people I shun, too. People whose eye contact I go out of my way to avoid, whose attempts at conversation I deflect, who make me feel uncomfortable for one reason or another. I might never be actively unkind to them, but I find it difficult to think of them in a loving way.
So I guess, rather than a bold message, I’m going to make a promise to myself and to these people.
The next time I encounter someone who makes me uncomfortable, I’m going to try to follow the principles of Nonviolent Communication by making a genuine attempt to understand where they might be coming from and what they might be going through. I’m going to try to figure out why I’m having a negative reaction – what part of my own life experiences are causing certain buttons to be pushed. I’m going to examine what makes me afraid to let these people connect with me. I’m going to consider the boundaries I have set and whether they may benefit from being pushed. My hope is that these critical self-examinations will allow me to unlock a source of compassion and love that I have been unable to access before.
Why do I want to do this? You might argue that there can be good reasons for feeling aversion to certain people, that our gut instincts are there for a reason. Sometimes you will be right. But sometimes you might be wrong. And unless I have compelling evidence to the contrary, I want to assume that most people deserve the benefit of the doubt.
I want to do this because of Rick’s Rant and Dan’s blog post. I want to do this because I know there are people out there who feel justified in their aversion to queer people, and if we are to ask them to try to critically examine their own discomfort and unlock their own untapped wells of compassion and love, we have to be prepared to do the same ourselves. Rick Mercer says it’s not enough to tell people that It Gets Better; we have to make it better. I want to do this because I believe that one of the best ways, if not the only way, to make things better is to start from within.