Thing.

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”.

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Pacifier.

My grandfather died when I was four. I remember him as sweet, tired, caring, endlessly fascinated by the magic I found in everyday moments and objects, and eternally sad. He was sad with a draining, disconsolate sadness, a kind of hopelessness that seemed to permeate everything he did – but it never stopped him. He never stopped doing what he thought was right: bringing harmony (or at least tolerance) into his family, bringing reason into discourse, reminding people that human fallibilities are inbuilt in their nature, pacifying.

I was too little to talk to him about why he was doing what he was doing. My mother found some of his writings a while ago, and for me it was like meeting a familiar stranger. He wrote about the importance of peace, co-operation, globalism, and socialism in its purest form. He wrote against greed, hubris, and intolerance. He wrote most vehemently against violence, in particular about war’s intrinsic evil, the slaughter of countless, voiceless innocents. I read his stuff and I was disappointed. I thought him weak and self-deluded. To me, it explained what I thought of as his capitulating tolerance; I never saw him stand up for himself or those around him, and he needed to. There was a lot in his life he ought to have taken a stance against; if not for himself, to protect his dependants*. What I failed to realise what that he was standing up for something, but that something was too large for me to encompass and accept. He wasn’t giving up; he was standing fast, which meant sometimes making a sacrifice. What I forgot, ultimately, is that he fought in two world wars, both times against his will, and both times for the wrong side and/or the wrong reasons. And yes, those were probably formative experiences.

I cannot contemplate a world without othering. I grew up with it. I faced it at home, in the streets, at school, and at work. I know the kind of behaviours it enables people to engage in, and I also know that I’ve not seen a fraction of it. I visited Chile when I was 18 and spoke to people about the regime, the tortures and disappearances… I haven’t scratched the surface of what humans can do when they flick that switch in their heads that lets them feel others’ shared humanity. I know what I can do, though; I know how it affects my priorities and affordances. I have been pushed to flick that switch so many times – am I facing someone that sees me as a person, or an object? flick, flick – that I now can flick it at will. I have also done it enough times that I know that it doesn’t turn me into a monster, although it gives me permission to do monstrous things. I have met the beast. We get along.

I thought I was the stronger one, because I could both face reality and adequately react to it. Actually, I’d completely missed the point. What my grandfather was doing was fighting against othering itself. He was fighting against those pulsions that divide us from other humans. It might be pie in the sky, but his fight was just bigger than mine, and in order to fight it he had to forsake a lot of the weapons I habitually resort to. You can’t fight fire with fire, if you’re looking to eliminate fire per se, rather than a specific flame.

If need is the root cause of conflict, othering is the root cause of evil.

*”Your dependants are those you protect. You protect them because they’re your dependants.” It just goes around in circles, and is one of the closest things I have to a belief.

Fantasy vs. Reality 3: The Hero On the Throne

A friend of mine was bemoaning his perennial dating conundrum:

“I just never know when it’s the right time. I mean, you don’t want to be that open with a new person straight away, or push them too far. But you also don’t want to, well, invest too much time into a relationship if that is going to be a sticking point. It’s not just a waste of time, but you don’t want to get attached and then discover that you’re fundamentally incompatible and can’t fix it. It’s not fair on them either.”

And no, he wasn’t talking about sex. He was talking about how long one should wait before telling one’s intended that one has a colostomy bag.

It’s one of those realities of life that Hollywood has successfully managed to brush under the carpet. Sometimes when your body get broken, it cannot be put back together. It can be made to carry on working, but you may never regain normal function or full independence. Your life span may be unaltered, but your life quality may be reduced forever. And I’m not talking about the sort of changes that are glorious reminders of a badass life – the unfading-yet-kinda-sexy scars, a slight limp, an occasional twinge that gives you an air of noble suffering when you overdo it, but you’ll overdo it anyway because you’re hardcore like that. Bodies can break in inglorious, unappealing, diminishing ways, ways that remind you and all those around you how much our identity and dignity are dependant on the functioning of this bag of organs we reside in.

Now, I am not saying that people with a less-than-perfect body are somehow lesser than other folks. I know plenty of people who gone through a lot of injuries without losing themselves, their loved ones, or their support network. I look up to them, because I doubt I could manage to achieve what they achieved: not only the bravery of their initial act, but the strength of character that allowed them to continue being their best self afterwards, regardless of their damage, suffering, and losses. This isn’t about them.

This is about the rest of us: the people who are not that strong, yet are sold on the ideal of the Hollywood hero. The people who may end up taking chances without understanding the true impact of failure, or even partial success.

The good folks at Hollywood never mention the colostomy bags. They don’t mention the scars that not only look bloody awful, but carry on hurting years after the fact. They don’t mention how chronic, unrelenting pain can be a mood- and personality-altering monster that constantly gnaws at you, sapping your strength, cognitive functions, and patience. They don’t mention how physical disabilities can take away from you not only the activities that make you feel truly alive, but the abilities that you haven’t even thought of since you were a toddler. They don’t mention that sometimes the hero may end up needing rails to get on the throne.

Fantasy vs. Reality 2: Big Ouchy.

I have done high-risk sports since forever and physical work since the age of 14. I’ve had a lot of fun, but I’ve also had more accidents and injuries than I care to recall. I don’t regret a thing, but it’s made me rather aware of my body’s capabilities. I know that I have a breaking point, and I can make a reasonable judgement call as to whether something is going to push me beyond that point.

For instance, I’ve learnt about leverage in school, but I’ve really absorbed the learning when I needed to lift and manouvre heavy stuff. In the process of acquiring that knowledge, I’ve also learnt what happens when things go wrong, or when you misjudge your body’s ability to withstand a load. It’s not a lesson I care to revisit. So when I’m at the dojo and the instructor tells me I have to bridge someone off me solely with a hip thrust, and the guy weighs at least three times my weight, I’m going to say no. Because it’s not just “all about technique”; it’s about me using my body’s strength to make that technique work. It’s about the structure of my body being able to sustain that level of stress. It’s about the whole thing being somewhat stupid; in “the real world”, I’d be doing something else in addition to bridging to get the big lump off me, because I know that if you pitch 8 st. against 24+ st. you are going to lose unless you play dirty. Ultimately, it’s about me being unwilling to seriously hurt myself to either please an instructor or prove a point.

Through work and play, I’ve also learnt a lot about the difference between sharp and blunt, and between static and moving. I’ve taken blows by hammers that, had they been applied with the chisel instead, would have been amputations. I’ve felt sharp blades cut through flesh, hit bone, and grind to a halt. I’ve had heavy loads dropped on me. I’ve been flung against solid objects. Most of the above things hurt, but they didn’t hurt the same, and the resulting damage wasn’t equivalent. This may sound a bit like discovering that fire burns, but apparently it’s not. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen techniques being taught against a static, blunt knife in the expectation that it should work against a sharp, moving one. And yes, I don’t know anything about knife fighting; but I know a lot about getting cut, and those instructors don’t seem to.

It’s not just about the fact that we’ve turned martial arts into sports and made them both safe and silly; it’s about the fact that most people live lives that spare their bodies. Most people in our society aren’t put in positions where they have to handle loads that break them, or work until their joints give up (newsflash: “back-breaking labour” is NOT just a figure of speech). They don’t have to carry out jobs that put them routinely in harm’s way. Not only they avoid getting hit or cut, but they don’t even hit or cut other bodies; how many people do you know who have butchered their own meat?

It strikes me that maybe one of the greatest problems in self-defence and martial arts instruction isn’t that the teachers don’t know Real Violence. It’s that they don’t know real injuries. They have a theoretical understanding of what a technique should achieve, without a matching understanding of its practicality and potential costs.

Fantasy vs. Reality 1: The Dread Apparatus.

I’m not very badass at all. I’m the size of a gerbil. I sound like Minnie Mouse with a cold. I like puppies and butterflies and things that are fluffy. I squee. I have a Happy Dance. I crochet shawls for a hobby, for crying out loud. This tends to result in the majority of Manly Men getting all protective and dufusy around me, bless their easily confused souls, and volunteering for much unnecessary lifting and carrying and flexing of muscles.

Every now and then, though, some prize asshole decides that he can score some manliness points by acting all Domly Dom and threatenish at me. Surprisingly, this happens most often online, where Shit gets sooooo Real. ’tis this sort of experience that makes me realise how much my real life pisses on people’s fantasy lives. Because some not-badass-at-all people still do DIY and gardening and forestry work and butchering and stuff that requires biteyscratchychoppymangly tools on a regular basis.

“Oh look, you’ve got a Big Bad Knife. I can totally see how very Big and Bad it is from the picture you just sent me. Shame it’s not full tang, and the welding on it is so blotchy that the damn thing would probably snap if you ever actually tried to stick it into anything. Oh, but that would also require sharpening it, which you clearly haven’t bothered doing. And the handle… are you going to wrap your hands in bandages before you use it, or wait until it’s ripped vast tracts of your skin? Tell you what, how about you just try to stab me with the sheath? It’d probably work better and be safer for you. I’ll give you three goes before I pick up the nearest screwdriver and see what I can do.”

“Hark at the mighty whip! That must have cost you a pretty penny from a specialist shop, hey. I’m sure you could put that to very good use – shooing off flies, mildly irritating a pony, that sort of thing. I’m going to stick to what I know, and if I have a need to whip someone I’ll just grab the nearest electrical item and hit them with the plug end of the cord.”

“Blades! You’ve got many, many blades! What a lucky boy you are! Shame you don’t appear to have the equipment that goes with them, like my industrial circular saw. This one here. With the diamond blade that can cut through concrete. Did you know that the human body is actually softer than concrete? No? Want me to demonstrate?”

Seriously kids, if you want to be all macho and shit, do try and make sure that the Dreaded Apparatus you so lovingly collect is at least the equivalent of what the average grandmother uses to do her gardening.

Crossing the Border.

Young women often seem to be (or used to be – I’m getting older every day) culturally conditioned to ignore their own intuition for the sake of politeness. We are taught to force ourselves to ignore it if something feels “wrong” in a social setting. Someone may say or do something that makes us feel uncomfortable, or push their boundaries beyond what we feel is acceptable, and we force ourselves to pretend it’s ok. We suppress the feeling of wrongness and carry on being polite, until something happens that’s bad enough to justify us taking action. Until that point, we have tons of stock justifications we can use to wave our discomfort away: “he didn’t mean it”; “he must have been joking”; “oh, that’s just him.”

Hitchhiking taught me not to bullshit myself. I’ve learnt to respect my feelings at least as much as I try to spare those of others. Instead of trying to suppress my “radar”, I worked as hard as I could at making it increasingly accurate. It’s not 100% reliable, but I have had enough evidence to feel comfortable respecting its signals. However, I am still mightily uncomfortable operating at the border between social and asocial, such as situations when a member of my social group is acting towards me in ways that seem asocial.

A couple of years ago, I had a really bad feeling about someone within my social circle. His behaviour was constantly off and he did not appear to be responding appropriately to my reactions.  He triggered me badly, but he didn’t provide me with enough reasons to do anything concrete. I decided to simply avoid him, but even that meant that I was “being rude”. I was socially reprimanded for my decision but I stuck to it, despite feeling very uncomfortable about the social fallout.

Eventually he pushed it far enough with a friend of mine to prove that he was a bona fide low-level predator. Instead of feeling angry or frightened, I found myself happy and relieved. I realised that I relax when I know for a fact that I am dealing with predators. I feel comfortable knowing that I can keep them in my sight and manage situations so that they are not a threat to me or mine. More importantly, I know that if push comes to shove I’ll fight as hard and as dirty as I can. I can deal with that. But being rude to someone in my social group…. that scares me. I’m more scared of social awkwardness than of getting jumped by a creep.

The more I think about it, the more insane it seems. There is such a dissonance between what we are taught and what we are shown. On the one hand, we are told that our safety is paramount and we are responsible for it. On the other hand, we’re socially punished for taking steps to maintain it. No parent or teacher or boss ever tells you “the nasty person’s feelings are more important than yours”, but that’s often what their actions seem to suggest. If that’s not fucked up, I don’t know what is.

PTSwhat?

The first time I watched Firefly’s “Objects in Space” I had a serious EEEEEEEEEEK moment. Nothing much happens (salient bit starts at 18:30). However, I have a pretty damn good idea of how it feel to be in that position, or at least to be facing that kind of opponent. To have him verbalise the way some people think was intensely creepifying. I was just on my way to help at a workshop for survivors of domestic abuse, as it happens, so I was already pretty keyed up to start with (I’m not cool with abuse). That scene came at me out of nowhere and kinda blindsided me, so I got a little adrenaline spike on top of an existing one. It made me pretty jumpy for a wee while. But I wasn’t triggered.

I did not have a flashback of a traumatic event reoccuring. I did not have uncontrollable distressing recollection of a traumatic event. I did not suffer an exaggerated physical or emotional reaction. I was merely made temporarily uncomfortable by it. After shaking it off, I was good as new. And that, to me, is not “being triggered”.

I seriously, seriously hate the modern dilution of the word “trigger” to include “anything that even mildly upsets or offends someone.” It angers me more than I can express that people are willing to equate the problems of a PTSD sufferer with the reaction of someone who, frankly, just got their panties in a bunch. Yes, getting upset or offended is unpleasant, but it’s not the damn same as suffering PTSD, which is a real disease that can wreck lives.

People seem to believe that it’s all the same, though. All human suffering is worth of consideration, after all, and your limits may not be my limits. Who’s to say that something that would only mildly bother you may not shock me? So we’ve pulled and pushed and stretched concepts, we’ve stolen terminology to suit our agendas, and what have we achieved? We’ve collectively allowed “triggers” and “trigger warnings” and “trigger whingeing” to be so ubiquitous and increasingly ludicrous that people are starting to tune out.

I saw a meme a couple of weeks ago getting a lot of support: “Being triggered is a choice. Only I can trigger myself.” Ain’t that just peachy. PTSD, originally called “shell shock”, was first recognised in print by Dr Charles Myers of the British Psychological Society in 1915. It took longer for it to get widely recognised and respected as an illness, so that those affected by it would be offered care instead of scorn (or a bullet). Later still we expanded the concept to encompass any extremely traumatic event, which made sense. And then we took the entire thing and we pissed on it from a great height in order to give ourselves carte blanche to demand not to be exposed to anything we don’t like.

Within the space of 100 years we’ve gone from managing to get our society to accept that PTSD is a real disease, to turning the entire issue into something so farcical, manipulative, and hypocritical that we’re heading back to square one. Bravo.

Automata.

I found a blog a few days ago that helped me disentangle some issues I was struggling with:

You have to internalize the idea that “emotions” and “actions” can be successfully disconnected, that you can still accomplish shit when feeling really down, and in fact this is your only real hope for survival. And then you have to swallow back an effervescent rage when other depressives tell you that you can’t really be depressed, you did things, you can’t possibly have accomplishments when you’re depressed, and you think of all the other things you weren’t able to accomplish because you had to fight this sucking tide of angst, and you try not to yell.

I’ve seen this a lot, and not applying just to depression. I know a lot of people whose ability to conduct a normal-ish life is entirely based on their ability to ignore themselves. They may be terrified, exhausted, raging, hurting, desperate, or just completely numb, but they bury that deep and carry on going.  Their entire life is a show of endurance that hardly anybody notices because they hardly ever miss a beat. They do what needs to be done because it needs doing, and that’s what they do. One foot in front of the other.

The first side effect is that achievements very rarely result in a sense of victory. Mostly, the overwhelming feeling is that of constant narrowly-averted unnecessary disaster, or of overarching inadequacy. Why am I struggling with what everyone else manages without any problems? Why does life come so easy to them? What do they have that I miss? And that’s an issue I don’t know how to fix, or even ease. My people are fucked up, but they’re not stupid. They know what “normality” looks like. They know both what their social group expects and what they would like to achieve. They know they struggle to meet those criteria more than other people. They know they may never succeed.

The second side effect is, as the blog stated, that many or most people don’t notice or understand asymptomatic struggles. People notice if you take time off work, let down your folk, ignore your obligations, have meltdowns, etc.. They may not offer help, but at least it forces them to accept that something is amiss. What people don’t tend to notice or comprehend is to be completely broken inside and not let it affect how you interact with them. They tend to assume that “it can’t be that bad”, regardless of how often you may tell them that it is. If an event was that bad, they seem to believe you must be some sort of emotionless, inhuman automaton. Either way, they tend not to help. There’s nothing quite like feeling completely trounced by life, desperate for help or support, and being told that you must be exaggerating because “you’re doing so well”.

The third problem is that learning to ignore your feelings can blind you to the significance of other people’s negative feelings. It’s not that you don’t care, or that you have no empathy, although it can look like it. It’s just that your normal reaction to your own negative feelings is to just carry on regardless, so you end up expecting others to follow suit.

The worst problem it that it can all become a habit. You can learn to operate like this in times of trouble, and by the time the trouble’s over you have forgotten that there’s another way to be. Like serious poverty or starvation, it can permanently change the way you interact with the world.

Rape aftercare: a diary.

Ok, so this is different. A friend has kindly and bravely offered to share her experiences after a sexual assault. The event took place about 10 yrs ago in England.

Please note:

This is someone’s real life. I do not normally moderate comments as I believe that if anyone wanting to make an asshole of themselves in public should have the opportunity to do so. However, bear in mind anything you write may be read by the victim. Have a care.

This is not an attack on the National Health Service or a demonstration of “rape culture” in action. The system is made of people. If those people are unprepared to deal with certain situations, they will fuck up whether or not they mean to.

Assault took place Sat night.

Spent Sunday thinking about going to police. Decided not to. Had family go through similar and was horrible; don’t want to deal with it. Don’t think I can. Also don’t have enough proof, my word against his, not enough to prosecute, so what is the point?

Mon went to work. Boss takes me aside and asks about marks on my face. I didn’t think so visible, but must be. I explain as he’s nice. He asks have I had tests medicine etc for pregnancy and disease. Hadn’t thought about it. He makes me ring doctor. Doctor says they don’t deal with this, I have to go to hospital. I ring hospital. They tell me to come in. Boss says to go now. (In all this, best source of support – all practical, no judgement, no emotional fallout. Bless him.)

I notice very hard to explain first time. Easier on the phone as I don’t see reaction, just hear shock but don’t care so much. Easier after a few times, repeat same sentence. But still say “I was assaulted” not the R-word, can’t get it out. So stupid, same meaning but word too hard.

Get to hospital. Front desk is in waiting room, no privacy line, no space. People sitting 3′ away, man standing right behind me so close I can touch. Lady at desks asks me why I am there. I say I will say but not there in front of everybody. She says if I don’t tell they can’t triage me. I say I will say in private. She says if I don’t tell her I can go home and see nobody, why am I being difficult. Lady comes out of office at back and asks if I’m the person who called, I say yes. She says to desk lady ok to book me in. Another lady comes out of office and shouts “you look like you were dragged through a hedge!” Everyone turns and stares. I say “actually I was pushed” and go sit down in furthest corner.

See nurse. She can’t make eye contact, very embarassed, very shaky. (All these people all the way through having meltdowns at me and I’m trying so hard to keep it together, makes it harder. Not helpful.) She says they don’t normally do this, done by police, but I don’t want police. She says only doctors on duty are male, is that ok. I can refuse to be seen but no women on staff so I’d have to go home. I say ok.

Doctor is same ethnicity haircut looks as attacker. Could be older brother. Nobody else in the room. I say to myself “I can do this I can do this” but still I think shouldn’t have to, this is fucked up.

Doctor asks many questions, what happened, what order. I don’t know. Memory all fucked up. He asks if condom was used, did he ejaculate inside, and I don’t know. Only answer I can think of is “I was too busy kicking him” but that seems stupid so don’t say it. So I stare. Doctor goes “Ha ha ha so alcohol was involved ha ha ha” and I know I wasn’t drunk, had a few drinks but wasn’t drunk, don’t know why memory so fucked up, don’t see how it’s funny. (2 days later brushing hair find big lump base of skull, really hurts, don’t remember getting it, guess explains it. Feel like going back and yelling at him but I don’t, no point.)

Doctor says I can’t have anti-AIDS medication as too late (over 24 hrs). Doctor takes blood test and samples but says these are for records not for testing. I have to do again at sex health clinic.

Ladies at desk say clinic open now, very lucky as otherwise more time off work, attract more notice.

I go to clinic, feel so dirty, never been before, thought only bad people have to go, guess this taught me.

People at desk have heard from other desk so don’t have to say again which is good. They are very busy but they say they make sure I will be seen today. Kind. Don’t want to come back.

See a lady doctor, very nice, explains I have to have swabs now for results next week but HIV test will be 6 months. 6 months not knowing.

Nurse comes in to do tests very angry, I ask if she is ok, she says people giving her hard time cos of waiting times, then says “I don’t know why you people get so uppity, it’s your own fault you’re here.” She looks at my chart after. I say nothing, don’t know what to say. Angry.

I explain need tests as don’t know medical history of attacker, don’t know if he does this all the time. She says “this is why you should report, now if he rapes someone again this is on you.”

This is fucked up. I want to go home. But need tests. Don’t want to cry in front of people. So hard.

They do tests and I go. Phone for results following week, simple, and all clear.

6 months have to go in for HIV test results, can’t do on the phone. See doctor (same doctor) and is all clear. She is so kind. I can breathe. Didn’t realise how scared I was till I was told all clear. Now life starts again.

On the Streets.

I was never an actual street person. Every bit of time I spent on the road was because I wanted to. The fact that I might not have wanted to if I’d been happy at home is not the point: the point is that I had a home. I hated it with a passion, but I could have stayed there. I had a choice. Many of my friends didn’t – or, if they did, it wasn’t a real choice. Would you rather sleep on the street and risk getting treated like shit by strangers, or stay at home with the certainty of being treated like shit by relatives?

However, people you bump into don’t tend to ask you for your résumé. They will take you at face value. And if you look like a street person, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get treated like one, which means you’ll get othered. You’ll be treated like a vermin or a potential criminal or a poor unfortunate or a easy prey or a trick; you’ll be scorned or chased off or avoided or molested or pitied, but you won’t be treated like “one of us”.

This sort of response is not always inappropriate. A lot of street people do engage in extralegal activities. Hell, if you’re an underage runaway you’re essentially prevented from engaging in legal activities. You can’t get a job, approach charity organisations, or in fact do anything that could get you reported to the authorities and carted back home. You’re pretty much left with scavenging, stealing, trafficking, prostitution, or black market work. Depending on where you live, you may be incapable of accessing medical care. You can’t report crimes against yourself without getting caught, which makes you an ideal victim.

Some people see the existence of street people as an affront; they blame them for not only for their condition, but for their presence or even their existence. Street people make the place look untidy. They are essentially sub- or even non-humans, who ought to be exterminated for everyone’s good.

“We” are better than that, obviously. We hear about the murders of Brazilian street children and are horrified and aghast at the extremes of human cruelty. We like to imagine that we would never stoop to that, and maybe most of us wouldn’t. But the problem doesn’t affect most of us as severely. I strongly believed that, if it did, some of us may think/feel/act differently. When it comes to the crunch, most people try to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property first and foremost.

It give us all a nice warm glow to think that “we” would all act much better, be selfless and giving and kind… but most people don’t. Most people don’t engage, one way or the other. They don’t do evil, but they also don’t do good, and when they do it it’s often more about “doing the right thing” or “making the world a better place” than about helping a fellow human. Good deeds don’t undo the othering.