Friday, October 5, 2007
The pain we see
These eyes, they stare at me and haunt me...
I am constantly struck by the pain in the world – and how it permeates every aspect of humankind. And then I wonder at that word – human + kind – earthly beings amongst whom there is never really enough kindness… Whenever I drive down to the local mall, there are always people begging at the traffic lights. Usually they stand there with a piece of cardboard on which is scribbled, “No Job. 4 Kids to Feed. Please help. God Bless”. Often their faces are contorted by an excess of alcohol and meths. And their eyes…to look into their eyes is so see the numbness that has surpassed oceans and eons of pain and trauma. Once when I stopped a child came to my window – I usually avoid eye contact, there is just so much pain I can bear to look at – but this time I looked. In the eyes of a child the pain still shows – the anger, the fear, the terror are still revealed though you see from the edges how the numbness, the self-preservatory armor of anaesthesia, creeps in. So young and yet already subjected to so much abuse.
We are a strange species. We injure each other so much – and to what end? I live, as you know, in a society that has endured the most violent of injurious behaviour – and which still continues to perpetuate that violence and injury – but in different ways. But it is not just here, it is not just this point in time. Consider, as a case in point, what’s currently happening in Burma. Consider the actions of Vlad Ţepeş against Ottoman expansionism. Violence and pain seem, so tragically, an almost fundamental part of our natures. Who’d have thought to look at it like that, that it would be like that? Especially when we would so much prefer to focus on our noble and gentler natures.
But you see, here’s the thing that is constantly made obvious to me. Many of us carry – to a greater or lesser extent - some kind of pain and trauma. Inevitably it stems from our childhood. Inevitably it was linked to our parents’ or some other’s pain. It finds its roots in pain that has gone on to become accepted childrearing practice - what Alice Miller calls the poisonous pedagogy. It goes on to shape societies and systems of governance. Seldom if ever did we bring the pain upon ourselves – yet we almost always pass it on. So there it is and there we sit with it. What becomes pivotal is how we deal with our pain – if we deal with it - if we are able to deal with it. Either we handle it and heal ourselves from it – and it strikes me that those who do are in the minority – for it takes resources, support, love, courage and fortitude to mine the depths of that which injured us and move on. Or, we pass it on. We may do so by turning it inward or we may vent our spleen on those around us – whether we know them or not. We try to make our issues their issues, we fail to deal with the things that make us ache and instead, like hand grenades, we detonate outwards, spreading and scattering our pain and our fear - through one means or another. And isn’t this perhaps the root of our problems - our and society's failure or inability to take responsibility for personal traumas, issues, baggage - the stuff that we all carry to some extent or another? Of course some might say, “But I didn’t ask for this to happen to me, it’s not my fault, not my responsibility.” Actually, whether you “asked” for it or not, it’s yours and utlimately only you can take the responsiblity - with support and love and care - to deal with it. No one else can. We start with ourselves, with a single step. Perhaps that is indeed the challenge of being human – to acknowledge, call up and accept our pain - personal and collective, to deal with it and our needs and fears, to move beyond and so to stop the rot of the constant spreading of personal trauma and fear. I accept it is not always easy, that circumstances can work against us but perhaps it is a case of to each his/her own level of challenge. I don't know. All I do know is I wish we'd stop hurting others because we are hurt - it makes for far too much of a Catch-22 situation which goes on and on and on...
This is a huge, complex and multiple topic - which probably deserves an entire blog, not just one short blog post - and I accept that I'm brushing the surface and that, as always, there are many ways of looking at any one thing.
I'm not sure if the single image above qualifies for Phoctober over at Moon Topples or not - the general instructions are, well, general... but take a look and see what's happening anyway.