I’ve been trying to formulate these words for days now, yet they would just not come out right and really – in the current global situation, are there even ‘right’ words? Probably not. I’ll try anyways.
When I was younger, I was fearless to a point of no return. I just did not know what fear was. I had no idea of what all could go wrong, not a care in the world, not a scare of anything, all I had was a sense for adventure and a healthy dose of self-confidence. I was looking for anything shiny, I was looking for excitement, I was looking for anything that was different. I wasn’t searching, just open to seeing, and I got a front-row seat to some crazy adventures. I was always very aware that I chose to make these memories. I chose to be part of a place at a time, there was nothing random about it.
Now just imagine, if I would have chosen to do one thing differently, life would have turned quite differently. Never would I have been in a situation in a bar where an inebriated man would have tried to take advantage of me because of my gender and race. Never would I have been in a situation where I was verbally and mentally abused by a man who thought that his behavior just because I didn’t pick up the phone right away. Never would I have been in a situation where a group of young men thought threatening my life would get me to sleep with them. Never would I have been in a situation where I was in a hospital far away from home left by myself in pain while everyone else was attended to hours before I was. I’d like to say that these were isolated incidents, but really, they weren’t – these were just the ones that I care to share (also – there are many incidents that have nothing to do with men threatening my well-being).
I am fully aware that if anything would have gone differently, never would I have had the chance to meet someone who appreciates me as his equal. Never would I have had the opportunity to volunteer with people in dire situations making sure that they were well taken care of for the day and the night. Never would I have had a very watchful eye when I saw that things just weren’t right. If I would have chosen one thing differently, never would I have had to make the decision to stay apart from my husband during a global health crisis. And then again, if one thing would have gone differently, maybe we wouldn’t have had a global health crisis or we would have had it much sooner or much later… At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, because it is what it is. What is now, that’s our reality, there is no different reality to where we are, because that’s just it – here and now.
We are going through a lot of suffering in the world – we’ve been hurting for a very long time already and just because we may be able to gain control of one thing, doesn’t mean that we can stop suffering elsewhere. Just because we may find a cure in one place, doesn’t mean that we’d be willing to share that cure with anyone else – humans are weird that way. At the same time, I don’t know if anything like global peace exists, because equality does not yet exist, justice doesn’t exist and even if justice did exist, what a just system looks like to me is very different from someone else’s view of a just world. At the same time, just because I have opportunities, doesn’t mean that anyone remotely similar to me would have the same opportunities and vice versa – the reality is that unless you are a certain way you probably won’t ever be able to enjoy as many opportunities as others. This is true when it comes to personal health and well-being, it is also true when it comes to the judiciary system, and really anything that involves people and power.
So, you may ask – what’s the point? If we can never change anything, why even bother?
When I was younger – unaware – fearless, I didn’t feel I had a choice, I had an impulse, mostly good, and I just had to go with it. Much more, I couldn’t choose to be fearless in one part of my life and be fearful in another, I was always fearless in all parts of my life (and still am although more aware), maybe to my detriment, maybe. My point is that we cannot choose where to stand brave and where to crumble. We cannot turn our back on people suffering, on injustice, on pain. We are not made that way. We also can’t go back and try to change things because yes, maybe things would be different now – for better or worse, but it doesn’t matter because we will never know. Now there is only one thing to do and that is dust off and stand tall. Fear too will pass, what remains is resilience, growth, and hopefully one more person we are able to protect from an unjust system. One more person we can protect by cocooning and social distancing, and one more person we will not let suffer in the streets while helplessly bystanding.
And then maybe, one day, we can all live lives where we can say, never have I had fear because of who I was when I was where I was…