Everyone…too

The “me too” campaign is going strong as more women – and men! – share stories and testimonials of what they’ve experienced or witnessed others live through, and although I am overjoyed that light is finally being shed on a crucial matter, I am saddened by many people’s reactions. For instance, every #metoo posted equals three “yeah so what? There are more urgent matters like war”.

Yes there are terrible things happening all over the world, does that mean we should neglect the abused in favour of things we mostly cannot handle ourselves? This is a matter we can fix, or help diminish by removing the taboo label off this behavioral herpes that sweeps our nations still. It is a worldwide issue, something that has been shut up in diaries, whispered and hushed for too long, something nobody should have to endure in silence or be silenced for having endured.

Abuse and assault of all kinds are what bring disease to our societies, mental disease, heart disease, invisible illnesses that plague so many secretly because this world is too blind to see and too ashamed to acknowledge that this is real and dire to address. We cannot sprinkle glitter on the matter and say “oh it’s a Hollywood thing”; it’s in your city too, in your street, at your kids’ school and your wife’s workplace, in your friend’s home and at the supermarket. It’s what keeps your neighbour from sleeping soundly or what makes your mother lock her door twice.

I have lived through too many things to allow people to disregard this issue, to trivialise my or anyone’s life altering encounters. I have been groped in taxis, spoken to graphically by strangers, talked to inappropriately at wotk, followed on my birthday as I left the metro alone at night and ran for my life only to have a pseudo friend ask me if at least my almost aggressor was cute. How could being cute make up for whatever could’ve happened if my feet had failed me? How could being cute make up for what could’ve broken inside me if two strangers hadn’t interfered and ran with me for a while? He wasn’t cute. He was scary and tall and made me dread walking at night, an activity I had always loved, and that whether alone or accompanied. He was a criminal and he stole my sense of security.

I wasn’t dressed in a revealing way. I didn’t mislead him with my words. I didn’t instigate him in any other way than by being there at that moment, when he decided I would make an excellent prey. There are no valid reasons, no possible excuses for such acts. There are urgent matters all around us, but right now we should open our eyes and ears and fight for more justice, push our faltering societies to act and alter our defective upbringing so that future generations don’t live through this fear we have borne for too long because speaking up would lead nowhere or would bring shame upon us. It’s not our fault. We didn’t ask for it and we don’t deserve it.

It is easy to forget that we are the actors not only of our own lives but others’ too; we are not mere extras in the picture, we’re supporting actors engaged for the betterment of each other’s days. You can help change things, and #MeToo.

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Letter to humanity

Hello Humankind,

This is one of you speaking. Well, typing if you really want to delve into the details. My voice cannot reach everyone in this big place, so I decided to move my words from the air to the screen of my sophisticated mobile phone and onto the internet. I assume that many therefore don’t have access to my thoughts; does that make them too pricey for some people? I thought words were free, world, what is happening here? Christmas and end of year holidays have just passed, we had salmon and turkey and chestnuts and cheese and so much chocolate, our table felt truly festive! But world, some people can’t afford what we all ate…are the holidays only for those who can pay for them? I’m sad, world, I simply do not understand. The big guns talk about capitalism as something good, justice as something real and poverty, hunger, destitution…well, they don’t talk about all that, it doesn’t concern them. If only they all knew how concerned everyone is, how guilty each of us should feel; where are the helping hands that are so eager to pick up a beautiful girl’s fallen pen but so reluctantly lend themselves to assist the hard working mother as she clears the table she slaved and perspired to cover with wholesome dishes? Where are the wallets that so easily open to offer diamonds and Baccarat crystal vases but hide at the sight of the shivering homeless roaming around aimlessly for lack of warm places to go? Where is everyone when it truly matters? How can I remind you, world, that it’s humanity you close your hearts to, that those are humans with no coats or socks asking shamelessly for quarters and dimes you’d rather save for park meters? How can I push you to open your soul and give? To give is the secret, you see, to give is to love, and our hearts have so much of it to pass around, too much not to share with even the most random of them. Give, even if it seems you’ve given it all, give even when it seems there’s nothing to be given! You must understand, it is not an act valued in monetary terms as everyone seems so keen to define it; to give is to be, and till now all I have seen is cities of shadows wasting their gifts from 9 to 5, drowning their excess of love in bottles of poison. Give your fathers a hug, they might never know how appreciated their presence is. Give the fisherman a smile, he’s standing near ice all day to keep your food edible and safe. Give your old clothes to charity, you don’t need that old sweater, and somewhere a young girl has to run to school with just a thin blouse on. Give your time. Give your energy. Give your strength. Lend your shoulder. And if you run out of things to give, forgive; forgiving ultimately is similar to giving peace, restoring balance and bestowing the best of yourself onto someone else’s briefly deviated soul. We are grand, it’s a pity we behave so small.

World, I don’t want to sound authoritative or condescending, I myself fail my fellow humans daily and I am no saint, but I’m lucky to be surrounded by good people who remind me that we are not alone in this cruel place, and that if we feel pain, there are others who have it much…much worse. I’m sorry world if my words don’t have the impact I wish them to, I believe technology has ironically made everyone smaller than they were meant to be.

Daily dilly-dally

I recently found this year-old text I wrote hidden away in a drawer. Reading it, I remembered just how miserable it felt working at my old job, and that since the very beginning. We tell ourselves so many lies to keep us going, day in and day out loathing our startling capacity to take in so many negative vibes and hide the putrid smell of dismay and disarray the job market can impose on our souls. So here it goes, some old thoughts echoing their way back.

I recently started working for a big multinational company. I’m an industrial designer; so basically, I spend my hours between my desk and the prototyping room. Our office is located in a sister company’s building that also comprises a big noisy factory; therefore, every time I step out of the office, whether to get my tea or anything else, I bump into workers, blue-collar tired-looking individuals. The sight of them on my first day struck me, not being used to such blatant displays of humanness, and as days and weeks pass, I am still perturbed each time we cross paths. They don’t look any different than your average Joe, they’re not from a different species either, but there’s something about them that deeply disconcerts me; they don’t wear our meticulously-crafted masks and you can feel the hours of repetitive labor traced on their faces, in wrinkles and invisible lines, the thoughts weighing on their minds as they carefully plan out the division of their measly wages, the haste and wishful procrastination as they end their daily shift, dreading the next at their second equally miserable job. I grew up in such a strikingly controlled atmosphere that seeing the curtain drop so suddenly stirred up all the resentment I had so long kept reasonably quiet; society is such an unevenly-shaped unit I’m constantly in shock at how everyone manages to stay put on this mockery of a merry-go-round.
We are lucky, I’ll never say it enough. In the comfort of our climate-controlled offices, swiveling chairs, correctly nourished bank accounts, heated cars and neatly packed lunches. We don’t have to worry as much, think of medication as a month with no meat, bed looking like the second best thing after death. Relief.
I don’t know if they all think that way, if their daily life is as gloomy as I portray it, but it certainly must be for so many, summer and winter equally cold and desolate, meals unsettlingly similar.
It’s easy to forget the blessings so gratuitously bestowed upon us, whether we’re CEOs or hairdressers; some people are forced to be robots, their bodies used as machines, their dreams trampled on as they make their way through the dried up tunnels of their once brightly-lit promising futures. “Someone has to do it,” we constantly repeat, to others, to our own pestering blistered hearts, but it could be us in those plastic sweat-inducing boots and sunshine-deprived faces. However, for now, it’s someone else. Someone just like us.