Do you have an opinion? Do you have something to say but reserve your comment for moments you feel would have more impact, moments that never come?
I know someone who has been raped, I have a friend who has to deal with challenges relating to mental health and I know someone struggling to parent alone. Sometimes I feel like I know enough to have a say and other times I’m afraid my thoughts aren’t valid or necessary. This is because I assume it should be logical that people should know “I don’t believe you” isn’t what you say to one who says choice was taken from them, “it’s not in our culture” are words that should never be directed to one battling with voices and “you should have known better” should be spared from those learning to live for more than themselves. Common sense seems to be something of the past as social media robs us of our humanity. Questioning another’s truth when we have no cause to doubt them.
A few weeks ago I read a post where a young lady told the events that led to her distrust in men and the conception of her daughter, the tale was disheartening to say the least but what baffled me most was the “I’m sorry but I don’t believe you” comment I saw below her post. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Did he post the first thing that came to mind or did he sit back and wonder what it took for her to open and expose herself like that on such a public platform? Was that his attempt at probing for more information or was it too much that he shows more empathy for something that was more than real for someone else? Does he realize he forms part of the community that ostracize and further victimize the broken members of society? Now before we lay blame on misogyny, I have seen how women treat one another. The ones who support you through trying times, are the same ones to drag you the next day if it means they will have a good laugh or make a lesson out of you.
It is a shame that we live in judgmental times, with life serving as the court room. Men and women judge single parents and their choices, their words border on those of bitter individuals who feel their forgiveness was never obtained, as if someone else having a child was something they needed to approve. Parenting now has a double standard, a women is praised for raising her child but a man is scolded for saying he is doing right by his. A history of absent fathers has made it hard to appreciate those who make an effort but the inverse is also true, we see how some parents are struggling and how some are failing to parent at all. Parents abusing their children, physically, emotionally and neglecting them but because we want to “mind our own business” we watch as a child suffers and mute our voices saying “we don’t know the whole story” but what happens when you know enough?
Lack of knowledge does not represent proof of something’s nonexistence. So just because you don’t understand depression, and mental health is foreign territory to you, it does not mean you can dismiss another’s courage to admit their discomfort or affliction. As person of colour, I find it disappointing that elders find it easier to believe in witchcraft and superstition but refuse to accept that their child, sister or cousin can do things out of character for reasons that go beyond “seeking attention”.
One is never too old to learn, but where are the ones who are willing to play the role of educators? Those who know better are shunned for having a different perspective or made to feel that they are not old enough to have an opinion. In the end it seems like rape, mental health and the stigma behind single parenting will only be a conversation worth having when more broken souls form a major part of the community or the after-effects of painful pasts force the voiceless to speak up.
Jade Novelist ©️ 2018