Julie Gillis wants a world without sides. Is that possible?
When I was a young girl, I’d have a recurring nightmare about having to stop the public execution of Richard Nixon.
I would plead and cry and throw my body in front of his and beg the judge, the people, “Don’t you see? This won’t solve anything! You have to forgive him!” I felt this huge responsibility to stop the madness and stop the execution.
They were horrible dreams. What can I say, my mother studied Watergate to pieces.
I tell you this because between those dreams, and later recurring dreams of being a midwife, helping people give birth over and over and over in my dreamland, I think I’m probably on the road (have been on the road, resisting the road) to a very difficult calling. Some sort of facilitatrixing peace seeker with a good sense of humor?
I don’t know. Seems like it would the thing to do, commenting on something so hot and timely. But it also seems like commenting on it would be in a way, mercenary, like taking advantage of someone’s very visible and painful break up.
So I’m not going to comment directly on it. But I will comment. I’m a writer, right? I write.
I’ve watched it, this internet moment, roll down the hill like so many mad and misunderstood snowflakes, gathering speed and mass until it was an sharp, round, avalanche of anger, words meaning things they don’t mean, people misunderstanding (perhaps willfully in some case) meaning, defensiveness, hurt feelings, commenters on posts zinging insults, words flying by like little missiles each accusing the other of misandry, misogyny, perhaps even racism in one post.
So many opinions, I lost count. So many words, so much in all of the language, but perhaps different deep structures, created by different, vastly different, experiences.
Another day on the internet, in other words.
In all of it I was reminded that so much of even being human is just about the awareness of who has power. Dominance, submission, pride at winning, shame at losing, rarely finding a mutual joy in a collaborative win.
Deep thoughts right before the holidays. A time of peace? The holidays are often the worst time for most of us. Many feel sad, lonely, anguished, silent. Odd too, when I think about this time of solstice, the darkest day of the year, before light comes back and spring returns, I find myself with gratitude for being able to see the dark and the light.
I see the conflict at GMP in that frame today.
Today, while shopping someone took my parking place. Seething rage inside me, more in that moment then at any other point in the comment fights, Twitter battles and resignations. She won, that jerk. I wanted to do something terrible. I didn’t and that left me feeling very weirdly angry/shamed inside, as if doing something in retaliation would have soothed the anger, and shamed for not fighting back but also the reverse; anger at myself for being angry and shamed at wanting to hurt someone.
And with such potent cocktails of anger and shame and power, how in the world do we ever figure any of this Deep Shit out. Feminism. Equality. Masculinity. Custody battles. Gender. Binaries. Global warming. Gay rights. Class wars. Health care. Can we break out of academic models and hear people’s personal stories? Can we kick people’s butts a little to quit focusing on the personal story and learn some damn theory?
Can we do both? Can we do it concurrently? I love theory and I love stories. I don’t see why we need to pick one side over the other.
I don’t want to exist on the poles. I want to learn both ends of the poles, work some sort of witchy, healing magic on the ends and turn the divided length back upon itself into a seamless circle, or infinite spiral. I want to be an actor for collaboration. I don’t want to lose friends and colleagues and frankly I don’t think I have to (that’s how stubborn I am).
I don’t want to see conflict, which can be rich and powerful stuff, turn into poisoned ground. I want to be a person who helps create a safe scaffold and structure for that conflict to germinate into something rich and fruitful. Truth be told, that’s hard to see in the moment. I hold hope that the conflict at GMP these past days will bear goodness for Tom, Lisa, Hugo, Amanda and everyone else. May be years of work and it’s worth it.
I suppose my goals may seem naive and perhaps even wishy washy. It’s not that I’m not picking sides, it’s that I’m seeing above and beyond sides. To what is holding the sides in concert, to what is around the sides, and within them.
Because that keeps us all less focused on power, anger and shame, and more on each other as we grapple with the issues of power, anger, shame and more.
Deep thoughts, yeah? More like a whole mess of trouble. :), but I’m grateful to be a part of the process.