The good and the bad…

I walked past a fight on the way home from the tube last night. It broke out just as I turned off the main road and the streets were emptied of people. A group of guys spilled out from a pub, followed by a group of girls shrieking in high heels, and I felt my stomach turn as the aggression became audible and I saw the first raised arm.

I am not good with violence.

I have not encountered much, but each time I have, it has left a deep imprint.

I guess this is the same for most people only it’s not a common theme in conversation, so I sometimes amplify the sense of disconnection. How can we behave like this? I have internalised the incomprehension in the past and it has left me feeling vulnerable and alone.

My head went straight there last night. Fear. Incomprehension. Shock. Close down because I don’t want live in a world that I can’t understand. Shut off because it is safer than staying engaged. Polarise the world into good and bad because it is easier, somehow, to deal with when you categorise the not so nice stuff out –

I know that this is a bit different from my other posts but I wanted to write it because I don’t think that this polarisation is helpful; and I realised, when I got home, that holding the not so nice stuff alongside the nice stuff is very much part of the challenge.

I have, historically, not managed this very well.

And so, this post is not about condoning violence nor about reaching a point where it does not leave a deep imprint. It does not seek to explain a world that I have had limited exposure to and probably don’t really understand….but it is a reminder that the bravery and vulnerability and empathy I have been writing about are still relevant, despite the temptation I am now feeling to retreat and hide –

In fact, they are more so.

And, that the world is neither all good – or all bad – as I have tended to envisage, but a mixture of the two that is far harder to navigate and in which the emphasis can change, depending on what you see.


6 responses to “The good and the bad…

  1. Violence usually comes about because people feel cornered and that they ‘have to do something’. They feel vulnerable and that they have to lash out to defend their life (honour, self-respect, person they love) in some way. Violence in this way is usually an expression of (perceived) weakness. This doesn’t mean the perception is accurate – bullies often feel that they are the ones hard done by.

    Hope this helps to understand it.

    • Yes in a kind of psychologically logical way. It still scares me that we can hurt other people and how devastating anger can be when it’s misdirected. Thanks for sharing this Evan. It’s actually been really helpful to start exploring thoughts around this.

  2. Evan makes a good point, and I think I get what you mean, though perhaps not so much with violence (though when it breaks out right in front of you it can be one of those shocking ‘life-and-death’ things that makes you realise how fragile everything is).

    Overall, I think things that feel totally alien or abhorrent can be very triggering and upsetting and then you end up doubting the world. Then you can end up being more insular and turning inwards out of fear and so on.

    I get like that with politics and watching the news and when I look around and see injustice, ignorance, bigotry and so on. If anything, it makes you a good person. We’ve just got to remember that there are bad things out there but we can’t live in fear and we’ve got to try and keep faith that the world is full of love and more positive stuff. (I hope that makes sense!)

    • That second paragraph is exactly what I have historically done. Doubt and fear everything, even though it’s unfair and extreme. Keeping it in perspective and not hiding is so important, otherwise I guess it wins. Thanks James. xx

  3. I was just thinking about this. Not exactly this, but our tendency to retreat when we venture out, open-hearted, hopeful, and get knocked about. I’ve felt it too. It’s been tempting to pull back. I know I’m not great at reading people or picking up on the subtext. It would be easier to retreat than it is to stay and risk my own misunderstandings of the world around me.

    My compromise is a temporary retreat. Just a few hours, a day, a few days… enough time to remind myself how I’d rather be touched by humanity, which is beautiful and terrible and miraculous and flawed, then separate from it. Even if the touching sometimes leaves bruises.

    Stay open, Issa. I will too. xo

  4. Deal. Misunderstanding is a strange thing. It creates a disconnection, I think, that sometimes we can resolve and sometimes we can’t. It can be isolating and scary and strangely undermining or, it is for me. Gonna borrow a page from your book I think. Keep going in there but take a break every now and then to acknowledge the stuff I don’t get or work through the painful bits.


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