Saturday, October 29, 2005

right and wrong

I took Savannah to see the movie The Legend of Zorro tonight. I truly enjoyed it. It exemplified the ongoing struggle between knowing when to turn the other cheek, versus fighting for what is right. When his dad tries to tell him life is more complicated than he thinks, and you don't always need to fight, the little six-year old son replies, "There is a right, and there is wrong." I do believe this is true. The question remains, how does one know when to fight and when to walk away?

I have been thinking a lot about when I was raped as a teen (see July 4, 2005 post "date rape and freedom"). Although I had a blackout the day after the event and could not remember anything immediately, it came back in pieces, and with discussions with my friend who was with me, and later when I serendipitously met the wife of the guy who I was on a date with (it was not him who perpetrated the crime - read the post...). In my head I can picture me lying there in the bed of the pickup truck, passed out, and I can picture the teenager- he was a small boy - and how he messed with me. What I have thought lately is that I don't think that he was being overtly malicious. I don't think it crossed his mind in any capacity the consequence of his actions on me, and my future (or him and his future for that matter).

I think that this boy was selfishly seeking after something he wanted in his animal-nature, which was sex. He was a young horny boy, and there was a young attractive girl lying there who he knew would not protest because I was not awake to do so. Although I did stir in my drunkenness, I did not protest. He was quiet and gentle not violent or aggressive. And this added to my guilt I imposed upon myself over the months that followed and years to follow. If I allowed it to happen was I a participant? To this day that event affects who I am. It had a very traumatic impact on my life in the immediate days to follow but has continued to be with me in my life and my relationships ever since.

The thing is, this was not a violent rape that tend to be perpetrated out of power hunger or anger (and I have a very good friend who at 12 was raped in a field by a stranger). What I have pondered lately is how the rape I endured is similar to what happens in the political world, or with the many small, unthinking actions that have a devastating end result on our environment or social justice systems. There are so many selfish, unthinking acts that people justify as ok because they're not outrageously, egregiously wrong. People often make decisions that go against the public good and that have subtly negative consequences but they get small degrees of self-gratification, whether through political backslapping or hopes of career advancements or funding of one's pet projects. Make no doubt about it, some of these acts in cases where ethical boundaries are crossed or money or prestige are placed as higher goals than the greater good -- are wrong as was the rape I endured. But they are easier for people to justify. Yet the consequences can be ever as far reaching.

So the world becomes filled with people who cross boundaries they shouldn't and those who allow their boundaries to be crossed. It takes courage and a strong learning curve to know how to change either of these tendencies. How does one know where the line lies when the other person does not speak up for themselves? We have to be ever-vigilant of not stepping over someone's boundary, but at the same time we do not have the power of mind reading and many people won't tell you. I for one tend to assume people will tell me if I do something they don't like, so I tend to just live in the moment and say whatever. But then I analyze what I've already said to death - after the fact. I suppose I need to do this before rather than after.

Its a tricky task navigating this world, it is.

1 comment:

David said...

I don't feel I can comment..