Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trigger Mocking

Triggers are only real for the people who are triggered by them.

This is why they're mocked.

In one description I read, "Tragedy is: I have a hangnail.  Comedy is: you fall through a manhole cover and die."

Mocking other people's pain is a way to cope with our own.  That's why you see the term "triggers" used in a lighthearted or cavalier manner.  I'm sure there's a large portion of the population who would have seen my 80-something WW II veteran father dive for the ground at the crackle of thunder as the most hilarious thing they'd seen in at least a week.  And I've had many people telling me, throughout life and also lately, that I'm overreacting, being too emotional, being a victim/martyr/whiner or "giving my power away".

This form of casual brutality is like poison.  No bruises are incurred, no guns go off, but there's injury on the inside.

Just an FYI.  Mocking a trigger is in itself a trigger.

Please remember that before you fire off a little lighthearted snark.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Permission to Tell

Auspicious Tibetan chatra from

Culture is not an umbrella.  So if you're a white writer and you want to write a story in, for instance, Tibetan culture, then asking one person of Tibetan descent is not gaining permission to tell your story. That kind of permission is unattainable.

 You can be a responsible writer and do your research, resist stereotypes and get sensitivity-checked.  But you'll never get permission.

Permission is an issue with oral storytellers as well, but they take a different view.  Like some of my friends who are artists and writers who happen to come from the non-white perspective, storytellers see great benefit in "borrowing" stories.  Sharing stories across cultures is the great connecting force of the planet, because it's the shortcut to empathy. Once you've heard a story from the people, you relate on some level to the people.

As Margaret Reed McDonald states in The Storyteller's Start-Up Book, "Now is not the time to freeze all story into pockets of ethnicity.  Now more than ever we need each other's stories.

Storytelling is folk art.  
We are the folk.
Storytelling belongs to us."

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Other Truths and Where To Find Them

The Great A'Tuin by Stephen Player. Sir Terry Pratchett Discworld

The doubt-tormented priest in Terry Prachett's Carpe Jugulum painfully juggles faith and facts.  His struggle reminds me of many of the news headlines I've been reading lately about alternative facts, alternate facts, and how we're living in "post truth".

Taking into account that no one knows the complete truth, nor ever will, I still found the priest of "OM" (one of the most powerful religions in Prachett's books) to be a familiar and sympathetic character.  We were all raised with certain ideas or tenets and, like good loyal children, struggled to protect them or to be faithful to the spirit of them.

 Faith for the faithful is, according to some research, a source of shame and also of redemption, hope and security-in equal measure.  There's a lot to defend there.  As someone who's tried to console "bad" Catholics I can tell you nothing makes them leap into the Christian Soldier stance faster.  Faith is (seen from the perspective of one raised atheist), like a third parent.  And no matter what our parents do to us, we'll defend them to some extent.  It's primal.

I want to quote a passage from Carpe Jugulum about the schism of faith:

"...he was, he knew, in two minds about everything...even when he was small there'd been a part of him that thought temple was a silly boring place...(yet) it had grown up with him...(and the part of him) that read avidly always remembered the passages which cast doubt upon the truth of the book of Om and said, 'If this isn't true, what can you believe?' and he'd reply, 'Other kinds than the kind that is actually true, you mean?'"

Doubt tortures faith with information, or, the other kinds of truth.

We have small brains and big hearts.  We're not thinking machines; we're feeling machines that think.  And when our beliefs are challenged we stop thinking and fight, while yelling at each other about the truth.

And the winner is not the person with a truer truth.  The winner is simply the one with the most power in the fight.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Inner Transcript

Mike Myers as Dr Evil

I have many faults as a communicator, particularly in personal conversations.

I overload my listener, I interrupt when I'm not careful, and I tend to barrel ahead with my own points.  But those are only three of my worst traits.  I do work every day to change these habits, and to become the listener I want to be.  But awareness is the first step.

I was talking to a friend once as we listened to a public radio station and had realized I needed to shut up and listen to her when the announcer broke in and said, "For a written transcript of this broadcast..." and I realized that would be a good way to keep track of my verbal belligerence.

Imagine the transcript.

If I've been going on for paragraphs and the person who's company I'm lucky enough to share has had no blank space, I do a quick assessment and sound the Shut Up alarm.

Conversation isn't score-keeping.  But for a verbal monster like me, a safety measure is necessary.

If the transcript is all me, it's time to zip it.