There Are No Victims Here

Most of us are familiar with the idiom ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ and most of us will agree it is untrue.  Words hurt. Words can be turned into weapons that pierce hearts, crush dreams and break spirits.  I have always been particularly sensitive to how we use words and what compels us to choose one word over another.

If you watch the news or keep up with events online or in print, you will have read or heard a phrase like this a thousand times over  ‘he/she was victim of a heinous crime’ and description of said crime.  The truth is most of us (if not all of us) have been ‘victims’ of something less-than-desirable through no fault of our own.  We have been victims of neglect, absence, abuse, unfairness, misfortune and crime and not because we ‘deserved’ to be victimized but because things happen all the time to the best (and worst) of us.  That’s life.

I am one of those people who crave the ‘after story’.  I want to know more about said ‘victim’ of wolverine attack, avalanche, burglary, rape, molestation etc.  I want to know if you saw the road ahead fork in two.  I want to know if you believe in second and third chances.  I want to know if you still get up in the morning to shower, brush your teeth and get on with creating your life.  I want to know if you hope again, love again and dream again.  I want to be inspired and am inspired by people who refuse to be labelled or prescribed to.  I am inspired by people who will not be defined by an experience or a poor word but fear for those who continue to play the victim card.

Words can also heal.  They have resurrective properties. Someone who has overcome; someone who has fought back; someone who has clawed their way back out and up and resisted is a survivor.  I wish more journalists would adopt the word ‘survivor’ and drop the word ‘victim’ when reading the news. I wish more of us realized this world is populated by survivors. Victims are dead.

What word do you find pejorative or inadequate and wish would be dropped from the lexicon?

On writing about loss and dark times

I am revising (revisiting is probably the better word) a short story I wrote, then set aside to percolate or brew in a dusty drawer.

It’s a semi-autobiographical story about childhood loss which I found difficult to write because writing about my father in particular,is always difficult.  Mostly he was an absent parent.  The kind of parent who would flit in and out of our lives like a shadow.  For the longest time he reminded me of  a Tomcat and in reality he was very much like one; always on the prowl.  He never did get to find what he was looking for, perhaps because he went looking for ‘it’ in all the wrong places.

I never got to ask him what he was looking for.  He died before I got the chance to really know him.  I like to think  he was looking for something deep and meaningful like peace or self-acceptance.   

Only recently have I come to realize that I write not only for pleasure but also for healing.   I write to draw out the monsters from under the bed.   It takes courage I think to write about our dark times but also a willingness to see things differently.  In writing about my father I have kept him alive all these years and in revisiting the places he took us to and reliving the things we did together I believe I have got to understand him better and the choices he made.  

How do you feel about your writing?  Do you feel it is healing? Enlightening?