On an activism mailing list i'm on there was a recent fraccas.
I'm not saying which one and I'm not saying over what.. or at least not the surface whats that are all we usually see.
That conflict gave me an insight. One that should be obvious really but it's the kind that should be obvious but aren't that are usually the most important don't you find?
I've been in my share of battles between ideological positions, internecine conflicts over who is legitimatly this, who is harming who with this label or that term, who is throwing who under the bus and why. For a long time i just couldn't grasp the WHY of a lot of peoples views. Why some HBS supporters have tried so hard to hurt crossdressers. Why some crossdressers have been so homophobic or transphobic towards transsexuals. why so many Cisgender Gays and Lesbians have been so often prepared to leave transgender people out of legislation.
I thought for a time that some articles i read on Internalised Oppression would sufficiently explain this all.. but I was wrong.
I've been dealing with the subject of trauma recently. Dealling with some of my own experiences and those of people close to me. Not the first time but perhaps more successfully lately.
Notions of triggerring, of the explosive emotional distress that can come from something sometimes only reminscent of a traumatic event that need not conatin an iota of the actual threat or actual harm but need only have some reminder sufficient have been something i have become more aware of. It makes total sense, after all a mere waft of a scent can set most of us quite nostalgic and consumed with memories. But we often aren't used to considering the world that way so much so it's not always something we are conciosly mindful of. And of course it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to predict if something may be triggerring to someone even if we know a great deal about the trauma they have experienced because any sense may trigger the memories, feellings and reflexive responses.
We can try and avoid things when we know it'll be triggering for others. We can be there for them when it happens. We can try and hold back our normal emotional responses to their outbursts because we know that it's coming from hurt. And when we face triggerring issues of our own we can try and cope with them, try to not allow them to limit or define our lives, try and learn to defy the reflexes, the fears, the pains, the paralysis, the shrieking terror.
Well i realised that when many people are wronging each other it's coming from a place of hurt. It may be about rejection, lack of fair recognition, ostracism, violence, being sacrificed...
And many people will react to such hurt with their own triggerred reflexes. Hyper-sensitivity from raw exposed nerves, over-reactions because of similarities to past traumas.
Those who are thrown under the bus because another is so terrified of being hurt again or a hurt not ending are themselves likely to also be traumatised. Often associating an entire class with the wrong done them.
Now the internalised oppression i mentioned before is undoubttedly one of the larger sources of trauma. But more than that recognising that many people are traumatised by the discrimination they have faced and will act and react the way a traumatised person will is i think crucial to understanding and in dealing with the bickering and anger and hostility between so much of our myriad interconnected and interdependant communities.
Judging others has become so commonplace in our society especially online that most of the time we don't question it. We happily ban many people for being disruptive, uncaring as to what kind of hurt may be the true origin behind the disruptive behaviour. Yes the net is full of trolls. And the harm they have done to the way we deal with hurting fellow humans is immeasurable.
How callous we have become on one hand that we easilly dissmiss each other as bad, as just plain wrong, as the enemy.. or is it really at heart that they are wounded and that we are wounded, they their anger is a response to past trauma and our coldness to them is our own response to our own trauma?
And isn't this substantially the way many actually want the world to work? That through pain and trauma we will develop reflexive responses? Isn't that how authoritarian thinking works? And what is the motivation of an internet troll? Have we been to quick to dissmiss them as sub-human rather than to wonder what kind of inner pain would cause one person to try and hurt the feellings of others? Or lead someone suppossedly following a faith they believe in as right and true and honourable and all-powerful to descend to trickery deception missrepresentation and outright lies in order to prevent the equal rights of another human being they feel somehow threaten them?
As some studies seem to have confirmed the long held notion of some that most fervent homohobes are themselves to some extent GLB doesn't that really all make sense?
Many in exasperation condemn those who squabble and fight amongst our communities and indeed those fights do often slow our efforts for equality down. But sometimes they have solid valid comp,laints that need to be considered and acknowledged. And each persons reactions from pain can trigger others leading to cascades and avalanches of suffering, lashing out and conflict.
We need to try and learn about each others traumas, as people and groups, so we can try and avoid being unjust by accident or triggering each other. And we need to be patient with over-reactions and triggered pain and reflexive defencive reactions and not exacerbate situations.
And we need to remember people won't always be able to predict what might trigger someone. And if someone goes off i a big way about something that seems unimportant well they may be responding to past pain or they may see something clearly that you've been unaware of. Both are possible even at the same time.
Overcoming bigotry. bias and internalised oppression are not easy. But they are neccessary. And helping each other to do so is neccessary.
That means trying to hold our own reflexes and pain in check, trying to heal our own pain, to not take the seemingly easy and seemingly quick options of quitting of banning of excluding and of anger but instead fighting the disease of passing along pain and instead try the slow but most powerful long-term path of passing along healling.
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