I provoke many people with my opinion about right and wrong; even though it is not my intention. That opinion is of course that there is no ‘right or wrong’ (or ‘good or bad’ for that matter). It provokes. It has provoked my boyfriend, my friends and even complete strangers. It has provoked them so much that they will try and get a rise out of me by firing off examples of certain acts and asking, nay demanding, that I contradict myself.
‘But abuse.’ They say. ‘Sexual abuse of children. You can’t say that is right or good.’
‘I don’t say that it’s right or good.’ I reply. ‘But I don’t say it is wrong or bad either.’
‘But if it’s not right, it must be wrong. And how can you say that sexual abuse isn’t bad?’
People get angry at me when they can’t shake me off my postmodern ethics, because they infuse their own meaning into my words. They think I am condoning the infliction of pain. Then they bring it back to themselves. They imagine themselves feeling pain (or perhaps they really did experience that pain) and they get insulted because they think that I don’t think their pain matters. I would say on the contrary, pain matters. Pain matters a good deal. It is the only thing that makes us grow. Physically; through disease and then immunity; emotionally through anguish and hopefully a deepened trust of oneself.
The people who would argue with me, see the world from a polarized perspective. From a judgemental point of view. I once did too, because I believe it is the natural way of things. I believe that we define the world by judgements which help us figure out what we are, or are not willing to accept in our lives.
What we call right or good, the way we justify our actions, how we act, is a mechanism in order to survive in our society. We are born and most of us try to postpone our death for as long as we possibly can. Murder is wrong and bad for example, because it decreases our chances of survival (as a society, perhaps not for an individual in certain circumstances). Right, wrong. Ethical, unethical. Legal, illegal. Appropriate, inappropriate.
They are all judgements which contribute to the functioning of our society. A society rife with sexual abuse would not function. It also creates unbelievable pain. It is therefore designated ‘wrong’, illegal, inappropriate and unethical.
I don’t like to talk about others; everyone has their own journey and their own personal belief structure. But a note before I explain my own beliefs; by saying that sexual abuse is not wrong, I am not inferring that a person is ‘to blame’ for their abusive experience (yet I don’t believe in blame either), nor am I suggesting that it should not be stopped if uncovered.
I do not condone sexual abuse. I think it’s horrific.
(Will people understand that clearly because of the italics? I hope so.)
Furthermore, I have not been subject to sexual abuse during childhood and cannot know the weight and struggle of that particular experience. But I have–in my own way–experienced adversity. So from here on, I speak my own truth about my adversity (and if you wish to extrapolate it to your adversity, that’s your business).
In my life I have built a structure for my belief system which helps me understand the madness and chaos of this world. It’s not unique, but it is tailored to me as all of our must be. It is only one of my belief structures, but I would say the default one and hinges on if…then… statements (and not only because I’m a fan of excel).
If there is a purpose to our existence, then I believe that as a specimen of life in human form, I am here to learn lessons.
If there is a goal to my lessons, then I believe it is to realize that I am part of a far larger creation and to make my way to a profound and connected awareness. To become as conscious a person as I can before I die.
What does this mean practically?
I participate in a game called ‘life’ and I play it willingly. The experiences in my life I chose to experience; from alcoholism, to adoption, to emotional abuse, to domestic violence … They are my lessons. This is my life. Just as maths or physics are not right or wrong, or good or bad (even though I thought that physics caused me a great deal of pain) neither are my life lessons. Physics lessons don’t inflict pain on me. If I experience pain, it is not the lessons themselves which ‘hurt me’. In fact nobody ‘hurts me’. Hurt is a value I attribute to an experience.
Out of the many so called ‘adverse’ experiences in my life, I would not get rid of a single one. In fact I have reached a point where I welcome them (although I certainly did not initially). But my lessons have changed. They used to be cruel, subconscious and self destructive; then I became aware that I had a choice in how I experienced my lessons and since they have become loving, challenging and conscious. Each one has distanced me further and further away from self involvement; they have taught me the more I try and control, the more everything is out of my control, the more I fear, the more I will encounter danger, the more I distrust, the more I will be conned.
Conversely, the more I trust, the more I love, the more I let go…the greater the trust, the greater love and ultimately, the more connection and happiness I feel.
So what does this mean as a parent now? Does it mean that I will allow my children to be sexually abused or shall I not speak out injustice where I find it because it has a deeper purpose and will bring a lesson? Of course not.
Whilst it certainly will bring lessons at many levels; I take my involvement in ‘life’ extremely seriously. Just as I would try with all my might to thrash you at Scrabble, I will also try to achieve egalitarianism, help people out of their pain as far as I can (without making them the victim) and protect my children…all the while realising that every ounce of pain they experience will bring invaluable learning… and as far as within my power, I must let them learn. It’s not easy. The game is not an easy one.
But what if we are not here for a purpose…what would that change? The answer is nothing. My personal beliefs do not inflict mass genocide, nor do they oppress women, nor do they bind by rules and forced control. My beliefs are characterised by trust, freedom and love. That’s why my model is robust. And if there is no purpose to our existence, well then surely all the more reason why I should live my life within those tenets. It is still the best path to happiness.