By Sharka Waite
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Although I agree with the above sentiment for the most part, and enjoy reading anything Gandhi, it’s not always as simple as this inspirational leader’s statement makes it seem. There is power in the simple sentence; empowerment of one’s will, purpose, stance, equality and strong attitude. Qualities most of us seek and would like to live by, especially in today’s globally intertwined society and competitive times.
There are many worldwide tragedies that strip us to our naked existence in the wink of an eye, such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, car accidents or planes falling down from the sky. However, the worst types, in my opinion, are the ones performed by a human against another fellow human. Often times, we are not like animals, it seems we are much worse than animals because we do have the gift of speech to communicate, and the will to choose compassion and kindness – which in my opinion, is not exercised often enough these days.
Unfortunately, there are times when our basic rights and will are violated without anybody asking our permission and there’s not much we can do about it except hope to survive. The hope to survive without much damage as, any time our basic bodily and mental rights are violated, we carry those emotional scars into the latter years of our life if we don’t expose and address those wounds in a constructive and healing manner early on. We’ve been conditioned to hide our sorrows, our hurts, and lick our wounds in solitude without anybody knowing. We were reminded to notice there’s always somebody else who has it worse, which is true. But this sort of comparative suffering only brings on more suffering as, unless it’s life altering, it’s not that bad (we were taught) and we shouldn’t complain about it. Of course there will always be somebody worse off, that’s an unfortunate truth of life. However, we should never neglect our own inner being and pretend at all costs we haven’t been hurt! For the more aware we are, the healthier we become from the inside out, and therefore are better equipped to contribute to our family, community, and society.
So often a child molestation goes on for years because a child has no voice against adults. Rapes go unreported because we attach shame and stigma onto the victim – she probably deserved it the way she dressed, and clueless males in politics call rape a “legitimate” rape because of their ignorance, denial and political aspirations. Every time I hear an old, republican man voice an opinion about rape or dismiss it, I would like to ask him how he’d feel if his wife, daughter, or mother were raped. Would he think they deserved it? Would he call it “legitimate” rape? How would he feel if his wife got pregnant by the rapist? Would he grant or deny her the free choice to decide what the right thing for her mind, body, and life is?
We can be blind to tragedies happening around us at times. And perhaps it’s a good thing, otherwise we’d get overwhelmed by all the sadness this world is filled with on a daily basis in every corner of the planet. However, we should never be ignorant to others’ suffering and take away one’s basic rights. We should be compassionate to their decisions, whatever they may be. And we, ourselves, shouldn’t hide behind a smile on our face, afraid to discuss our hurts; they only bring us closer and provide understanding. With understanding we can become more compassionate toward one another and build a stronger society.
I remember when I was raped in my teen years, I didn’t discuss it with anyone except my sister. Although now regretting not being brave enough and act quickly to report the rapist, but at the time I was scared and didn’t want to relive it and talk about it. I was ashamed and wounded, and well aware that we “didn’t talk about those kinds of things”. I was on my way to an equestrian practice that day, as I was a part of a competitive team, and my sister told me our trainer was quite upset I didn’t show up. She told me to just tell the truth, that he would understand. When I approached him and told him what had happened to me and that I was too distraught afterwards to make it to the practice, his response couldn’t have been more shocking to me: “I wish I was raped by somebody too.” Laughing. I shrugged it off with an accommodating smile, however, it felt as if my heart was stabbed again and tears were flooding my entire inner being. I never talked about it again for years, only bits and pieces here and there were shared by me with very few more recently. I don’t believe my parents know to this day. Not from me anyway.
Mostly I avoid talking about my inner wounds and to a certain degree feel guilty about it, as I know, there are many victims of violent acts in need of empathy who are silent, and many ignorant people in need of educating. One thing I do know for certain though, due to my inner wounds and sorrows, which not many people know about, I possess deeper understanding towards others and am NOT quick to judge. I know all too well what Plato meant when he accurately stated: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Be kind to others and to yourself!