Yesterday I spent all day projecting good vibes and healing and protecting thoughts towards people I love who needed it. When you do that, it’s tiring but you are also permeated in a steady warm glow that reinforces you as well.
This morning I was stung by a wasp, whilst pulling Zoom away from a known wasp’s nest where he got stung twice. And later, taking Maggie to school, I saw the woman who hated me.
I knew this woman hated me for my cheerfulness and apparent confidence, my smile and the happiness of my Maggie. Unfortunate creatures tend to hate those that seem to be happier and more carefree. Then one day I saw her arrive (and hurry away) with a massive black eye. Funnily enough, it was the day after I was hoping a black eye of my own didn’t grow out of a night-time clumsy encounter with my husband’s elbow. It was the day after I was avoiding remembering all the black eyes that did grow, the pleasant and proud ones (achieved through playing basketball rather vigorously) and the shameful and painful ones, in my other lifetime.
So I saw her, and my insides wrenched. I had to make sure she didn’t see me in my immense pity for her, I knew the anger I would cause her would become ten-fold. I saw her daughter with her and realized she was the same little girl who had breezily said to a friend a few weeks back that “the other day my mum drank so much wine she forgot to come and pick me up”.
I wanted to go to her, tell her please contact Refuge, please just leave him, find help, come to my house, we’ll talk, please let me help you out of this!
Of course I couldn’t. Before anybody asks, you can’t. She’d hate me for it, she’d be ashamed, she’d tell me to mind my own bloody middle class business and go away.
I have thought of how I could contact the school, tell them “at least one mother of three pupils in this school is being abused and her children swear like their father probably does as he beats her and they are miserable and unhappy. Please give out the leaflets with the child abuse number and the leaflets with the women’s abuse helpline”. I may still do it. I remember the terror of the social services, at least in Italy. The utter fear that if you went to them and you were jobless (as you often would be with young children) they would take your children away from you. I know the woman drinks so she doesn’t need to tackle the situation, so she can forget about it. I know other people heard what I heard and saw what I saw, what do they think? How do they deal with it?
I have less issues thinking it right for me to take the life of an animal (hopefully after it’s not been mistreated) than I do thinking I can’t do anything for these women and these children. Does that make me a bad person? Should I care about everything and everyone that is unjustly treated? I care, but can I do anything but any of them? Well, here is the answer, some you can’t, some you can. You can choose to be a vegetarian to appease your own conscience and imagination but unless you are actively working for the whole of humanity to become vegetarian you are not really making much difference. Random talk is useless. Will the school use for me the argument some of my friends use in telling me well it’s just an anecdote, it holds no relevance to the school as a whole, it’s not our business?
I disagree. I don’t care if she’s the only woman who is beaten up among the school’s parents (she will not be, of course), she is important. And so is each of her children. So what can I do?
The other day I discussed with my husband why some people would opt for a private school despite there being no real need such as, among others, frequent travelling of parents, awkward entry times, difficulties learning and so on. Often these private (public in UK, weirdly) schools have worse achievements than the public (State ones in UK) ones, so why?
Partly I think it’s to avoid what I see every morning. Because upper middle class and upper class women get beaten as well, children are just as abused, alcoholism is rampant in the “upper” spheres as well. But it is not shown. It is kept indoors. So everything looks pretty and orderly and clean and beautiful on the outside. Like our conscience when we choose to look the other way, to turn our mind and thoughts away from the woman with the black eye and the swearing enraged child. And not because we don’t want to make her feel bad.
I am angry because I know the best way to help would be to support these charities, give them lots of money (because really, they have the ideas and the methods, what they need is financial support!), and I don’t have any money to spare beyond what I give when I can. Now I will look through its pages for advice, and see what can be done.
But the main thing that can be done, and I’ll never get tired of saying it, is for each and every one of us to care for those around us. The stronger your influence on the world through your job or position or social scene of course the more you can do, but already caring and helping those you can immediately affect around you, not just your friends or relatives or acquaintances, rather than distant causes in far away places, or causes out of principle that you do nothing about, would already make a huge difference.
Is it possible none of the women this woman actually talks to in the morning can do anything?
I had many moments, many lengthy times, when I was alone facing this and that. When I wasn’t, it was never the well-meaning thought of a distant principle-speaker that helped me. It was always the individual, small person, with their own small decisions, based on the very immediate anecdote of my reality of life, and their own very simple and basic heart. They each, individually, made an enormous difference to me (and my beautiful children) on many occasions. When I hear great philosophies and principles and figures and statistics and resonant intentions, I always pray to myself that they also care about their neighbour, and about the small lives of the small people and animals around them. We all matter.