It is 04:21 and I am still up. So is my fundraiser. Please, donate and/or share. Sharing helps, too, as awareness should be raised to help prevent further suffering.
When I was 11, I read a book called The Last Unicorn. It is considered a masterpiece of fantasy, and that’s actually how I found it: It was in a collection among other masterpieces of the fantasy and scifi genre in our bookcase in our living room. I had picked one of these at random — title unseen — and was rather disappointed that the book I chose was about the pure and conventionally beautiful unicorn. Out of all the fantastic beasts I had read about, the kinds I preferred had infamously dark or unpredictable elements, such as dragons, vampires (not the vegan, sparkling, or atoning kind), jinn, Judeo-Christian demons like incubi and succubi (yes, at 11), etc. These beasts were more interesting to me because I felt their darkness and violence created complexity, depth, making them have more room to explore, and that piqued my interest. The darkness and bloodlust of vampires later made way for an interest in compulsive serial killers and an in-depth exploration of psychopathy and sociopathy. That I can thank Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray for: an obsession with remorselessness, destrucive selfishness, and an absent moral compass. At the risk of sounding like I’m trying to be a unicorn myself, there was nothing more mysterious to me than those topics. Truthfully, I think one of the reasons I explored it was so I could learn how our darknesses do tie us to another, even when at their most destructive. I have done horrible things myself, but I needed to understand why people treated me and others the way they do. Why I myself have done horrible things when I never consciously wanted to be a selfish person. (But who consciously wants to be when they see no reason to do so?)
Providing no excuses (neither for myself nor for others), at least I understand now.
At 11, The Last Unicorn strengthened ideas and feelings I already had inside me. The heavy, sad stone of solitude made me connect with her more than I would’ve liked to. Described as “a vain creature, as unicorns always are,” I did not like her by the second page. But it was written so beautifully and so emotionally and in a way that I could relate. By the end I cried hours for her, as I felt greatly close to her own suffering: neither a part of her world nor theirs. This theme is what makes me identify most with Buffy from BtVS, as well.
Humans are very much like this.
Photographers, for instance, are taught that the human eye is attracted to itself; that a portrait of a person is most effective when the eyes are involved, and those will be the first detail a viewer’s sight locates. I know this is true for myself. Humans are more interested in stories about humans or humanoid (or anthropormorphized) characters. We tend to empathize more with one another when we see in each other reflections of ourselves. This is one reason that fascist governments flourish on espousing hatred of “the other.” In the bigger picture, there is no such thing as an “other,” but there are noticeable differences between us in terms of culture, religion, appearance, etc, and this is what fascism thrives on: Driving the wedge between us with those details and scrambling the effective communication of the language that connects us all.
The more “other” someone seems than ourselves, the less likely we will understand them or feel for them or look at “the bigger picture.” I feel that words like compassion, mercy, love, and empathy have such broad definitions, and many people believe that acting those words out is the same as being passive, as tolerating the unforgivable, or even defending the indefensible. In my own dictionary, those words are not words anymore that enable but do truly heal.
We often villify those who have hurt us and/or hurt those we love or those we perceive have hurt us and/or hurt those we love. We want to be absolutely nothing like them. Whether true injustices towards us have been committed or we think they have been, our feelings are very real to us. Repression makes it worse in the long-run. But we also have to remember that though our feelings are real to us, that does not make them objective reality or actions we want to carry through because of our feelings justified.