I don’t know how old I was when I realised that some people didn’t see me as one of them; that they were incapable or unwilling to extend to me the mantle of human fellowship, or rather of fellow humanship. I’ve learnt it so long ago that it feels as if it’s always been there. It’s a piece of information so confirmed by experience that I now class it as fact, not theory. Some people look at me purely as a resource, a tool, a thing; something who has value only because of what I can bring into their lives; something whose value might only be in the fact that they can control me (and, all Lecters notwithstanding, it’s control that matters to some of them, not the ability to cause harm. What comes your way may be good, but it will still be solely a function of their whims. But that’s a whole other blog.)
I have lived and worked and loved with people who are incapable of feeling any differently towards a baby and the pram they’re sitting in. If they had to decide whether to save one or the other, their only consideration would be which would be costlier to replace, or what they could gain by each choice. Think about that – no, really, do it. Think of seeing a truck speeding headlong towards a baby in a pram, and not feeling any differently towards the baby and the pram. Or a puppy and a brick, or a kitten and the sack it’s in; whatever feels you with horror, really. I think it’s important to try and feel that feeling, because it’s completely alien, thankfully, to most of us. And unless we can understand the way these people think/feel, we won’t be able to understand their motivations, which means we won’t be able to predict their actions.
These people exist. And they may look like us and talk like us and act like us, but they don’t think or feel like us. The difference may be caused by a psychological condition, a physiological problem, or a culturally-ingrained belief. I’m not sure how much the causes matter, because the result is the same, and it’s the result you’re going to have to contend with, at least in the short-term. The bottom line ss something I’ve struggled so many times to explain to people (did my words fail? did they not want to know?):
No interaction with someone who has truly othered you is social.
It may look social. It might follow social scripts. It may happen within a social context. But it lacks a basic quality that, if shit truly hits the fan, can seriously fuck you over. Because no mercy or consideration will be forthcoming, because to them you are a THING.
And if you think this way of thinking is alien to you, read what I’ve just written. “These people.” “Them.” That is othering, and it’s an othering I embrace and accept, and completely shapes how I deal with “them”.