The pain is cyclical.
May 30, 2011 2 Comments
There is a reason why the kyriarchical apparatus recycles the same dualistic tropes. Black bad, White good. Fat bad, Thin good. Woman bad, Man good. Non-Citizen bad, Citizen good.
It uses these patterns because they are simple to absorb and they work. Having a good guy and a bad guy is the equivalent of a psychological nervous system. No pain is good. Pain is bad. No itch is good. Itch is bad. Our responses to our bodies do not necessarily have middle ground; we tailor our remedies to the severity of what’s ailing us. But any sign of an ailment that cannot be managed, adapted, or eliminated is bad, and that’s how we navigate from day to day.
But that’s where critical analysis sets in. With our bodies, we learn to recognize what problems can be managed ourselves and when we need to consult trained professionals to help with larger issues. We learn to recognize the difference between a paper cut and the loss of an appendage, despite different pain thresholds between us.
For our body politic, I can’t point to the same urgent care operation. It’s not that simple. If it were, we would not be battling the same tropes stemming from the same root causes — racism, gendered hatred, homophobia, ablism — on a regular basis. The pain is cyclical, it is constant, and it is debilitating. With each battle, we lose time and loving energy. Every onslaught is perpetuated so that there is no time to recover and to prepare for the next fight. The pain is cyclical.
I have learned during my distance from blogging and from writing on political issues that I have allowed my psychic pain threshold to rise astronomically. There are concerns with self-care, concerns with self-sustenance, and concerns with self-preservation that can successfully keep me from caring about other human beings who struggle with the same things in similar or worse circumstances. Staring at that realization is incredibly painful; yet my day-to-day living permits me to realize it coldly, clinically, as if it is a part of another person who will do all my feeling for me so long as I travel to work on time and refuse to make waves. It’s enough to make me furious, and anger is punished when it accompanies any sort of observational truth or categorical imperative to move towards peace. That pain is one I can’t face and I avoid it as surely as I type this out.
But the onslaughts keep coming. What can one person do to face them without fear? What can I do to face them with absolute certainty that the pain I witness while fighting is nothing compared to the pain inflicted on the world? Do I dare disturb the universe? Depends: is peace a disturbance or a balm?
My role in any struggle is to speak. I am not good with my hands, and I do not have many redeeming qualities beyond putting words in the ether and letting them move. If the pain is cyclical, I must write and speak to stop it. But where is the time? Where is the courage? What sacrifices must I make and accept before this life becomes bearable? Because even though I may grow numb, the pain doesn’t stop and it won’t until its root causes are eliminated.