I do not watch horror movies; I shield my eyes in critical moments in a suspense thriller. (No, I’m not missing the “excitement” at all!) Where possible, I choose not to engage in conflict. I have created a peaceful space in my home and in my life in general. I live a relatively simple life. I make no apology for them.
Though I do ask myself, the reasons why.
It is true that once you see, you cannot unsee. The images imprint and the knowledge marks my mind, the rattle of noise and disharmony permeate my senses. Because I have encountered a lot, seen much and experienced the turmoil of this human existence, I have no desire to revisit them, whether it is merely a horror movie or a momentary difficult situation. And despite it all, I am also privileged in so many ways.
When I choose not to engage in the negativity, it is not that I am unaware or that I do not care.
The question is, can I bear all that comes with my seeing? A question that was asked of me on a meditation retreat I attended recently. That, for me, asks whether my compassion extends to having the courage to see and to step into the arena.
Do I have the courage to engage in the messiness of life?
This prompts a mindfulness to my daughter’s activism on #BlackLivesMatter and #LGBTIQ. Now I am filled with respect and appreciation for her courage to see and be seen, to be moved by the inequities and injustice, to touch the suffering of others, to stand up for her convictions and to share her views. Ultimately, I am encouraged and embolden by the strength she has shown through her active engagement with the discomfort and difficult conversations.
Are we hiding or avoiding because we would rather not? There is no shame or criticism in this; the seeing and getting involved is not easy nor pleasant. Quite the contrary.
So here is the question (again): can we bear our seeing?
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