By Kristin Diversi
The past few days I have found myself uncomfortable almost every time that I’ve opened my computer.
Uncomfortable—hell, I am disturbed.
They say Baltimore is burning, and images of violence fill my screen, commentary by endless spectators and speculators on why and how and who is at fault.
The cops, the blacks, the gangs, the looters, the unemployed, the oppressed, the repressed.
Barely veiled racism covers most of it, and divisiveness and blame rule the day.
Standing by, offering bets on the lives and livelihoods of a city, of thousands of people, the audience drink their coffee and click through sound-bytes, offering perspective that is informed by…?
Have they been to Baltimore? Have they lived there? Do they know the incredibly intricate structure that is poverty? That is inner city living? That is Baltimore?
That is living black in America?
I bet no.
Clips and quotes from Bruce Jenner’s interview, lauding him a hero or disparaging him for a freak (following the Huffington Post’s lead, I am using male pronouns until Bruce Jenner makes it clear he wishes otherwise).
Opinions on this person’s life, his body, his very soul.
Have they been a transgender person? Struggled with a serious identity crisis? Spoken in an interview about a personal issue in front of millions, affecting the lives (for the better, we hope) of more millions of their community?
Do they know the incredibly intricate structure of the brain? Of gender?
It would seem, no.
I saw one article posted that I choose not to share here, because it doesn’t deserve any more attention. If you’d like to find it, I’m sure you can. It was by an incredibly conservative, “Christian” blogger, and basically said, “Bruce Jenner is not transgender: he is a sick, delusional man.”
The piece itself was full of hate speak toward the transgender community, which is terrible and upsetting, but the part that disturbed me was all of the junk science that it quoted as fact. Religious beliefs that it relied on to assure the reader that their prejudice and intolerance was justified.
All of it, science and religion, confirming to the reader that yes, they are perfectly justified in their hatred and judgement.
The comments beneath it chilled me.
“Hahaha he tricked women into being LESBIANS he’s so sick.”
“We can love him but we don’t need to like him or what he’s doing or be quiet about it.”
I won’t share anymore, because it’s purely as an example that I even post these. We don’t need to turn others’ hatred into entertainment.
But that’s part of what we’re doing. Part of what we’re all doing.
Info-tainment, as a Buddhist teacher once explained. Is it news? Is it happening to us, right now? Do we need to know about it?
For our viewing, speculating pleasure.
Most of us don’t know what’s going on in these very complex situations involving other people’s lives, bodies, cities.
We can speculate, we can read about it, we can even (if we’re really trying to understand) put ourselves in their shoes.
But we can’t really know.
Our perspective is small. Colored by our own lives, our experiences, how we’ve grown up, in which city, which body, which socioeconomic situation. Parents that hugged us, too much or too little, dinner that was available, how it was eaten, who with, what it was. School that was attended, with bars on the windows or pictures on the walls. Bodies that were celebrated and explored, or that were doubted, and shamed. Jobs taken, opportunities lost. Love and family, loss and hardship.
We only know ourselves.
We can help each other by trying to share our own small, unique perspectives, and offering what we’ve learned through them.
How can we help each other through what we’ve learned? Does it make sense to the journey another is on?
If so, we share. We learn from each other. If not, we are gracious, and we move on.
We don’t compare our journey, our experience. We don’t cast stones and throw our opinions at each other like poison daggers because another’s experience was different, for better or worse.
That is a futile exercise: it’s not apples and oranges, it’s coffee cups and Jupiter moons.
Instead of looking at Baltimore and Bruce Jenner (and every other issue) and using our own experiences of cities, race, police, gender, sexuality, and the multitude of issues that are presenting themselves in these contexts, can we step back and ask ourselves how their experiences are different? What we can learn from these unique perspectives?
Might the solutions—the answers—to the violence, hatred, and intolerance we see be in listening instead of judging?
Peace can be found in deep consideration and a desire to make the world, and ourselves, better.
Not through another click and share, another comparison of our experience to something we cannot know.
Our perspectives are small. But we can be big.
I invite you to be an instrument to spread peace; not a weapon to further increase conflict.
Kristin Diversi is a star child, born and bred in rural New Jersey and currently enjoying the good coffee and fried chicken in Durham, North Carolina. Kristin received her Master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science and through nutrition, yoga, and mindful living, she is dedicated to empowering people with the resources to change their health, future, and lives. Find the things that make you come alive- and go do them! Find her at her blog, on Twitter or on Facebook.
Editor: Dana Gornall