Judge

No time to write again, so I’ll just put this observation out there, for now:

Most people would rather judge a situation they know nothing about than learn anything to inform their opinion.

Probably  because learning takes effort.

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My Opinion…On Opinions

Opinions.

Everybody’s got them. Everyone is entitled to them.

Lately it feels as though more and more people are voicing them and/or sharing them on the internet, too. About everything. Even if someone doesn’t know a single fact about the subject upon which they are speaking, they are allowed – we all are allowed – to go ahead and spew forth whatever opinion we have on said matter. It’s pretty much our God-given right, and we’re going to exercise it every chance we get, dammit.

The thing is – and this is just my opinion (see what I did there?) – I’m not certain that a) any of our opinions actually matter to anyone but us, especially the uninformed ones, because b) we’re so busy screaming our opinions from the rooftops that we’re not bothering to listen to nor consider the opinion of another, but rather how to respond to them so that they’ll know they are wrong, and c) we’re basically all contributing to the rapid decline of intelligence and critical thinking in our own species.

You know…that thing that sets us apart from and above all the lowly non-human beasts of the planet.

Like, can opinions even be wrong? They can be formed upon misinformation, but can the actual opinion itself be incorrect? By definition, isn’t it really just how we feel about something based on what we believe we know about it? Wouldn’t something more concrete be more like a fact? Opinions can even change (on the rare occasion anyone bothers to inform theirs on something of a continuous basis), so can something so fluid really be considered wrong? Why are we all so eager to prove ourselves and those who agree with us to be correct in something we only feel rather than know?

If I say I feel light-headed one day, can someone else tell me that’s not how I feel? I would think that we should at least be able to agree to disagree, and yet, in most cases, the vast majority of what I see in the world – the public world – is that people can’t even do that.

I think this.”

You’re wrong, because I think this!”

We can both be right, from a certain point of view, and we can both be wrong. So sayeth Obi-Wan, kinda.

But I’m not sure opinion can be measured in a pissing contest, which is basically all we’re doing now. We’re all just peeing and then arguing about who’s pee is correct.

The funny thing is, none of our opinions even matter anymore, if they ever did. Instead of opening a discourse, all we are doing is peeing our pee, and letting others judge our pee – usually while they are also peeing and we are judging theirs – and no one is listening. I’m not listening to you, you’re not listening to me, no one else is listening to either of us.

Unless we already agree. Then we both pee and pat one another on the back for a job well done.

I was actually just thinking about this the other day. I was wondering if I should try to pass on to whoever will listen some of the things that I have learned in life thus far? Or should I focus on continued learning? Because I am fairly certain that I can not do both, at least not with any degree of success. I feel like I can focus on finding the right words to convey bits of knowledge-like gems gleaned over the past almost 44 years, or I can focus on paying attention to the world around me, and struggling to understand it better; to perhaps even understand another being’s experience with this planet, if only a tiny morsel of it.

In the latter pursuit, someone’s well-expressed opinion can help in learning a great deal, though probably the best teacher is experience – paired with mistakes – and finished off with a healthy dose of connections made in between. But it is imperative to good learning for a person to remain focused; to pay attention. To watch in silence more than speaking.

In the former quest, it’s vital to express thoughts and opinions well, and to re-frame words in different ways, in order to not only get them across, but to also confirm that you are doing so. Questions need to be asked to make sure the listener is on the same page before moving on, lest you leave them behind and with nothing to take away from the conversation at all.

Don’t be so busy talking that you forget to check in. If no one is listening at all, then you’ve failed on both counts – learning and sharing.

Neither are easy, but both are – or should be – necessary to some degree. I just feel like I personally need to focus more on one or the other for a little while. I keep thinking about trying to teach and share, but in the end, it’s my own somewhat selfish thirst for understanding that pushes me to keep watching.

And judging the rest of you. I mean, let’s be real – nobody’s perfect. At least I can admit it, though. Sometimes to my detriment, but still. I understand that I have much more to learn than I have already learned, and that even my perceived knowledge or understanding is deeply flawed, so that there is always room to grow. I am also really not good at confrontation. I find I can’t express myself very well when I am upset or passionate about whatever subject is being “discussed”. You know what, though? I don’t think the rest of you are, either. I don’t think anyone is. I’m not sure it’s even possible to have a personal, emotional stake in something and yet remain removed enough for logic and reason to overcome emotion. It’s just that most of you don’t care to give voice to your opinions so that others may come to understand them. You just think that peeing louder makes your pee more right.

And the thing is, for the most part, you don’t really know. You feel like you do, but you don’t. None of us do. But we say it, anyway, because it’s our opinion and we are entitled to it.

Maybe that’s why I prefer to just stay home with the dog and cats who live with me. I don’t have to remind myself to not read their comments.

The word ‘opinion’ looks like ‘onion’ when you type it enough.

For The Love Of Animals

My work computer’s hard drive fried this morning right in front of my eyes, basically, so while I wait for IT to set me up with a replacement, I’ve had to get a little creative with my day. I’m using one of the old computers in the back, and it is having trouble keeping up with my mad typing skills (thanks Mrs. Coulter!), as well as 2016 in general, so this will be short.

Also, I’m getting stressed about this first radio play episode. We’re supposed to record it on Thursday but I am still short a guest cast member or two. So much prep needed, too, in addition to trying to find last minute actors who may be available and interested. Geez.

Anyway.

I enjoy watching Brody the dog interact with the cats, especially when none of them know I’m watching. They are fabulous together with me, and we make a sweet, fun little family as it is. But when they don’t realize that I am paying attention – when they choose to interact even though it’s not with the intention of getting my attention – I find it all even more remarkable.

Somehow, these little beings of different species have figured out how to not only share space and get along, but to accept one another into each others lives. They do more than tolerate one another being in the same space – they live in that space together. They share all of it – usually. Sometimes Flynn sleeps in Brody’s bed, but he lets her, and finds somewhere else to curl up until she’s done. Sometimes they groom one another. Sometimes they play together.

At some point in our existence, someone decided that cats and dogs could not get along. Most of us listened, instead of seeing for ourselves whether or not it was true, and whether or not that truth was definitive. Even now, that’s the first thing people ask about when they hear I live with three cats and a dog. How do they get along?

The answer is – better than most of us get along with other people.

So how is it, then, that these allegedly lesser beings (again, things aren’t always true just because someone says them) can figure out how to not only exist in the same space together but actually thrive in it, but we human masters of the universe can’t even get along with members of our own species on the same freaking planet? Let alone those of another species.

Other animals don’t care about what the other animals look like. They don’t care about differing breeds, let alone colours. Appearances are unimportant, and don’t factor into their judgments like other senses do. They listen to a whole other rhythm playing throughout the universe. They vibrate on a whole other level. And we’re just sitting at the bottom of the well, in the dark, talking about colours we can’t even see. Because it’s dark. But we imagine them there, just as we imagine they dictate the caliber of a person’s character.

Orangutans are unimpressed by flashy technology – they quickly became bored with it. That says a lot about our orange genetic cousins, but it says way more about the rest of us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stare at my smartphone for awhile.

Ghomeshi Verdict

Well, turns out that, no matter what else I was thinking of talking about today, there is now only one subject that’s worth my voice. Yet I am so angered and ashamed and sitting here in frustrated, impotent disbelief that I can’t even think of words. So bear with me.

Back in 1988 (nearly 30 years ago now) powerful film called The Accused was released. Starring my love, Jodie Foster, it told the tale of a woman who had been publicly gang raped, and the struggle she went through in both the court of law, and the court of public opinion, to bring her attackers to justice. It was a very tough but very necessary watch.

Today, we’ve been shown that our justice system – and indeed much of our society as a whole – have not come nearly as far as we pretend we have in those 30 years. I want to say today’s verdict hurts my heart (which it does), and that I’d hoped for a different outcome but am not surprised by the actual one (because that’s also true). I also want to say again how angry and disheartened and frustrated I am by the result – because I do feel all of those things.

But mostly what I want to try and express is the very physical effect it’s having on my body now. I feel sick. I can’t focus on my work. I am shaking and every muscle in my body is tense like a wire pulled too tight. I am damn near crippled by it, and I don’t even know any of the people involved personally. Yet there are no words for the effect this verdict has had on me, and from what I can tell, that’s a large part of the problem in situations like this as a whole. There aren’t words to express it. There are just emotional, mental and physical reactions, all happening on the inside, out of sight (except for all the trouble I am having typing this…the amount of backspacing and correcting I have to do is obscene). In cases where there is physical evidence, it’s much easier to prove a point to an outsider. In cases where the loss of a loved one is involved, it’s easier for someone else to have some sort of sense of what that means, having also lost loved ones themselves, but to varying degrees.

But in cases of rape and sexual assault – you just can’t. If you’ve had no personal experience with it at all, you just can’t imagine. And to those who can imagine, there are no fucking words. None that come close to expressing their experience, nor the effect it has had on them forever. Forever, guys. It’s not something you get over, or forget, or have any control over. You can go years without thinking about it, and then something random happens and you’re right back there in it again, experiencing it all again, on the inside, just like you did the first time. It’s a wound that never truly heals. It’s cut that does not scar. It just breaks open again from time to time. For the rest of your life.

And whether it happened yesterday, or 30 years ago, some details you never forget. Everything that happened during the assault remains fresh as a daisy (whatever that means – never mind – it stays crystal fucking clear). Yet everything before and after is gone. A blur at best. Your body and mind don’t consider those details to be important, so they are let go, and 100% of your focus is on what happened to you. Maybe you have even thought before about what you would do should you ever find yourself in such a situation, but guess what? You almost never do what you think you’d do. You can’t plan a reaction to something like that. When it happens, some other subconscious part of you takes over. Self preservation – of your whole self, not just your body – takes over, and when all is said and done, the very first person to judge you is you. You go over it and over it in your head, and imagine other outcomes, and things you could have done or should have done – you envision every possible scenario, including whether or not someone else could have helped, or something you might have said instead that would give your attacker pause.

Because most of the time, it’s someone you know. Maybe even someone you love. Someone you trust. Someone you wojuldn’t have suspected was even capable of such a thing. Someone in a position of power or authority. An employer. A healer. Every single time, it’s someone who should have known better. And then when they treat you like nothing happened, like they did nothing wrong, and that you should know better than to think them capable of such a thing, that’s when the fun self-doubt game sets in! You can’t remember what led up to the assault, so maybe you did do something to encourage it. Maybe it was a huge misunderstanding. He did say he likes it rough (though to my mind, that means he likes rough stuff done to him, not the other way around), and you consented, so maybe you just were too embarrassingly naïve to understand what he meant. He’s just so logical and likeable and no one will believe you when you’re not even sure you believe yourself. So yeah, forget it…you misunderstood and blew everything way out of proportion. Give him another chance, and you’ll see how wrong you were about him. Or he’s your husband…for better or for worse, right? You promised him that. Or you’ve slept together before and this was maybe just a one time thing…just a mood, or whatever (though even a one time thing is one time too many…I tell myself and then don’t listen when it pertains to me). Or you work together and still have to see each other at a time. No sense in rocking the boat over a simple misunderstanding. Be nice. You weren’t raised to be rude, and you’d like to keep your job, so just forget it and move on already.

These women – “the complaintants” (dumbest name ever for what they actually are – heroes, champions, survivors, not-taking-any-bullshit-igans) – they stood up. They gave a voice to the only words they were able to find along the way. They spoke out, for themselves, and for everyone else who has suffered through a similar life-altering event. They said no, I will not let you do this to anyone else. Not one more.

Because one was one too many.

And their reward for taking that impossibly difficult step? To be put on trial themselves, instead. To be the most recent victims of an ancient system of “justice” that still favours the perpetrator. The accused didn’t even have to take the stand in his own defence. He didn’t even really say he didn’t do what he was accused of – he simply said it was consensual. Which…isn’t that speaking FOR the women? However. His actions were never really put on trial. The actions of the women were, instead. Oh, they didn’t tell the whole truth in their original statements? Maybe because they weren’t the ones on trial. Maybe because their actions before and after the assaults had zero to do with his actions during the assault.

Then, to add insult to injury (and more insult), the judge basically accuses the women of lying under oath, says we have to put a stop to women submitting false claims of assault (because apparently that happens all the time, even though the vast majority of such crimes go un-fucking-reported), and then throws out some statement about how his verdict isn’t the same as saying that the events didn’t happen, just that there’s reasonable doubt that they didn’t happen.

Um, Judge Super-Genius, sir? That’s actually exactly what you’re saying.

He’s not only dismissed the women’s claims as invalid, but he’s also sent a very clear message out to anyone else who suffers a similar fate and has dillusions about stepping forward to accuse their attacker. This verdict has basically silenced every other survivor – not just in this city, but everywhere. Canada’s women lie about being raped. And if the oh-so-polite Canadians can do it, then surely every other country’s women are liars, too.

Does anyone even know what a struggle it is to come to terms with the notion that what happened to you is assault? That it’s a crime? Just to get your own self to understand it is a huge inner battle, and you are your own worst critic. Guaranteed, every single thing said to those women during the trial has already been gone over by them themselves. They have already torn themselves apart and then pulled themselves back together enough to take the enormous step of speaking up. At the risk of not being believed, of not getting justice, of not getting some sort of closure.

And thanks Canadian Justice System! That’s exactly what’s happened today.

You know Ghomeshi is going to get laid again. And you know it’s only a matter of time before some woman gives him the benefit of the doubt and it happens again to someone else. Will that woman step forward? Or will she think about herself what so many others will think – that she was warned, and that she should have known better. That it would in fact be her own stupid fault.

To that woman – or women – whoever you are, and to the women who left the courthouse after the battle of their lives today, I will say right now that I believe you. I stand by you. And I will vent my impotent yet righteous rage online for all the world to see or not see because I believe you. I believe in you.

And it’s not your fault.

Addendum to For Michelle Nolden Post

In conversation with a friend regarding some parts of yesterday’s post, I had a couple of thoughts to add:

It’s so freaking frustrating, isn’t it?

 Even when you’re kind of prepared, like, if the jogger hadn’t have been just a jogger, I’m not sure I would have done any better.  I just couldn’t stand not knowing what was coming for even a second longer.  I’d frozen before that night, and I have frozen since.  I’m also always am a little unsure as to whether or not I’d played a part in whatever happened.

For example, my first actual girlfriend was a huge alcoholic.  The kind that gets super drunk really fast, completely changes personalities (in her case, violent as hell), and then forgets everything (on purpose or not, I never knew for sure) by the next morning.  I never knew who was coming home at the end of the day.  She’d either make me dinner or toss me around.  One time we were screaming at each other, and I remember she asked what was wrong with ME.

 I said I didn’t know.  Totally took what little wind I’d had out of my sails.

 I used to wonder, though, if I knew what she was like when she drank, did I ever, like, push the envelope?  Did I ever say or do anything that might have brought on her rage?  And if I did, was it then my fault instead of hers?

 If it’s happening to someone else, I am so completely logical about the situation and able to react in a more protective way.  I see fault and proclaim judgement all over the place. 

When it happens to me, though, suddenly I’m not sure what’s right and wrong or deserved or not.  Things are never as clear when it’s me.

 

Ironically, another thing that happened when I was away at school is something I’ve only told one person.  That very same first girlfriend.  And she has since passed away from cancer, I hear.

I wonder if it’s a thing with women in general, where we feel less certain of our own rights or place In the world, so we don’t defend ourselves as much.  Some totally do – bitches be out there not taking any crap from anyone!  But the vast majority…I feel like we try to smooth things over and…what’s the word?  Placate?  Especially when it’s someone we know and trust, and/or someone in a position of power.  I feel like we maybe try to take too much of the responsibility, and the guys/people doing stuff aren’t taking enough. 

I guess it’s our society, really, though.  It’s much easier and often safer to just work it out ourselves, rather than try to prove wrongdoing to someone else who may or may not be sympathetic.  Most rape cases appear to put the victim on trial more than the perpetrator.  What the hell is THAT about?  How is it any kind of justice to force someone to face their attacker and, if they can’t remember stuff, or didn’t act the way they were supposed to after, use that to decide the attacker’s guilt or innocence?  The one on trial should be treated like they are the one on trial.  Not the other way around.