Monday Miscellany: Caring, Comments, K.C.


1. Stephanie on why ‘zero-tolerance’ harassment policies sound pretty, but do damage.

Finally, zero-tolerance policies fail because they’re difficult for organizers to follow. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s true. When there’s a one-strike-and-you’re-out policy, it gets harder for organizers to determine they’re making the right choice. Patterns of behavior are easier to work with than a single incident. Except in blatant cases, a single incident may be ambiguous where a pattern of behavior won’t be. This can lead to very high standards of evidence being required for action because the only action allowed is drastic.

….

These policies also fail because they discourage reporting. People who experience undesirable behavior under zero-tolerance policies know that reporting may well lead to expulsion. That frequently isn’t what they’re looking for. They just want the behavior to stop. This means that much undesirable behavior goes unreported. Even people who have experienced significant harassment won’t always report if reporting means taking responsibility for someone being expelled and excluded.

2. On soldiers returning home after war, and hidden guilt.

The story of the Trojan horse, delivered as a gift but transporting lethal agents instead, has long served as an allegory for the destructive power of secrets – like the unaddressed guilt hidden in the minds of soldiers, repeated with every homecoming for thousands of years. War’s simple premise, killing, is like that Trojan horse, devastating those sent to do it and, ultimately, the society they return to when the war is done. The insidious damage is only made worse because wartime killing, a philosophically problematic act, has been left out of the global dialogue. After all, how can humanity’s greatest civil crime, killing, become heroic in the context of war? There are practical considerations as well: will too much discussion of killing make soldiers hesitate or even rebel against protecting us from threats?

3. Chana on the Caring Less Game.

4. Miri on depression and isolation.

I recently saw the movie Frozen (yes, just recently). A lot of things resonated with me in that movie, but in particular I liked the theme of connection. In the movie, Elsa tries to hide her magical talent (and, by extension, her entire self) from everyone around her, even the little sister she loves, in order to keep them safe from the magic and to keep it a secret. That to me sounded a lot like a metaphor for depression, whether or not it was intended to be one. I also go to certain lengths to keep people from seeing how miserable I sometimes am*, and I also do this in order to “protect” them from worrying about me, from the frustration of being unable to help, and from whatever mild or severe drop in mood they may experience upon exposure to me. Like Elsa, I ultimately fail at this.

Elsa discovers in the end (spoiler alert) that the only way to prevent her gift from consuming her and everyone around her is through connection with others, through being close to people she loves and experiencing the positive emotions that brings. Likewise for me, there is no relief from depression without connection. Locking myself away in a tower makes for a good fairytale, but not so much for a recovery.

5. Julia with a lovely reflection:

As a child, many of us heard the slogan, “My body belongs to me” as part of a campaign against sexual molestation. It’s a pretty fundamental concept: you decide what to do with your body, who touches it, all of that. Autonomy and self-determination don’t get more basic.

In the weeks around my daughter’s birth, I’ve been thinking about all the ways your body does not belong to you.

6. I know K.C. through sidebars in textbooks and asides in lectures. As the result of an accident, KC was unable to recall things he’d done–only facts. In the jargon, he had no episodic memory. Now, K.C. has died.

7. I’m posting this, not because of the original link (though the advice offered is great) but because of the comment I found, via awkwardeer Kathryn:

People do change, people can learn and improve. They do get second chances.

Those chances do not have to be with me.

I can forgive and never have to speak to them again. I don’t have to give them another opportunity with me, the world gives them the chance to be a decent person to many other people every day. They should take the world up on that offer, but for my part? I’m busy with my life. Forgiveness just resets the clock to “total stranger” not “trusted companion”.

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