Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child’s loss of a doll and a kings’s loss of a crown are events of the same size. Mark Twain
Quote located on page 40 of “Letting Go of the Person You Used To Be” by Lama Surya Das, Broadway Books New York 2003.
Yesterday’s post commented on world issues. It then brought the world issues down to the size of one person, and one four letter diagnosis. Everything is proportional. Everyone’s bottom of the barrel is different, the experience of that bottom is parallel. There are meeting grounds for all of us in this human experience.
A decade or so ago I listened to a police officer speak about a United Nations project they worked on. In that project they interviewed women in the country where the issue was at hand. One woman walked many hours to be interviewed, and waited until her story could be heard. This choice meant that the woman being interviewed would return home in the dark of night, running a very real risk to being sexually assaulted, and not live to see the next sunrise. Both the interviewer and the woman knew this was a real possibility. The interviewer asked, why….why do this? The woman answered something to the effect that it was the right thing to do and the story needed to be told. The police officer returned to Canada and shared the story. I listened and that story lives. That woman and her brave choices live. That police officer honoured last wishes and let the story live on.
Later on in my career I learned that police officer had been diagnosed with PTSD and was open to the public about the injury. I was impressed and saw bravery embedded in human vulnerability.
Much later I looked that officer up on the web and found a blog. Something from that blog stuck in my mind, it was a comment from a stranger saying “my PTSD is worse than yours”. Injury was never meant to be compared. It is meant to exist solo for it to transform. If it is compared then one, or both, will feel silenced or unheard. Injury brings stories that need to be heard, sans comparison. It is so simple. A child’s doll might be lost and that story may need to be told, just as pieces of this story are told. They both hold merit and need to be heard.
As a technical aside it is worth it to understand the standard required to title an event a “Crime Against Humanity” is so high that it feels wrong. The stories investigated by that police officer were not named as “Crimes Against Humanity” and those details are for that police officer to share, not me. The standard required to prove guilt in the Canadian criminal system is so high that the “victim” is often re-injured and that is something I know intimately. Guilt, innocence, right, and wrong are all judgements stating a perception of merit, related to any story. Perception of merit is a smokescreen and has embedded in it, comparison. The cost to that comparison is dangerously high, compared to the simple act of listening.
Practice listening to stories. Your own stories, or someone else’s. Practice listening without any action, other than the act of listening. Pay it forward and watch what happens.