Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spring Semester 2011-12, Part 2: The Stories and The Agony

As I said in Part 1, I had a low point in the last month or two of school. It came after I read the first two pages of a short story for my Literature class. It was called "In Broad Daylight" by Ha Jin (I think). Don't read it. It starts with a somewhat graphic description of the old Chinese punishment of burning adulteresses alive. If the story's true, they merely beheaded male adulterers. I didn't finish the story, but I gleaned that the adulteress of this story was paraded through her Chinese town by the "Red Guards," or something like that, and her husband killed himself. From the way the professor denounced these officials for carrying out this new form of punishment, you'd think the professor didn't realize that the old form, burning alive, was worse. I mean, both are horrible, but one is definitely worse, but no one in class even mentioned how horrible the old punishment was. I was sluggish and unmotivated for a couple weeks afterward.

I'm not naiive when it comes to these things. I know that such cruelty and violence and hate towards women existed in ALL ancient cultures and many present ones. I have a hundred stories of cruelty that I can't forget and don't necessarily WANT to forget, but often, I can ignore them. It takes only one story to bring them all to the front of my mind, though, as if one wasn't enough. It takes just one story to remind me that this is a hideous world, and I don't want to be here.

I'm always scared to say this, and I never have, because I think it might make me sound pretentiously humanitarian, but the following statement true. I am in agony for all the people of the world who are being hurt, humiliated, and made to feel worthless, and all who ever have been. I can ignore the stories, and then, I feel only a slight ache in the corners of my heart, and it doesn't bother me TOO much. But the stories and The Agony are so readily called up and fanned into fires.

Some people have such an attitude of "How dare you complain about the state of the world? 90% of your life is beautiful." I've let them keep me from saying just how upset I am, but seriously? I know I have good things in my life and maybe I should be more grateful, but how dare THEY try and keep me from empathizing with people? That's all I'm doing. I'm not saying my life is that bad, or that the world is all bad, but I won't pretend that it's good either. Why shouldn't I be upset? Do they think I can't truly be empathizing with people if I haven't actually been through what they have?

I have a good imagination, if I do say so myself. I have a dime-sized scar on my knee where I burned myself when I was little. Around which time, I also stepped on red-hot embers in bare feet. (I wasn't trying to, obviously. I was just careless.) I've been cut, bruised, embarrassed, ignored, and dealt injustices, and I CAN imagine what it might be like to experience those pains on a larger scale. I can imagine what it might be like to be burned alive. I won't apologize for feeling so low after reading that story.

The Agony is actually a huge part of my life, and I want to write pages about it, but right now, I don't know what I'd say. It's just always there, has been for years, and probably always will be. It's the reason I need people to distract me, and more than that, I want someone to BE like me. After reading that story, as I always do when I'm in agony, I wished for someone I could really talk to, for someone who would completely understand, for just one person who is as haunted by The Agony as I am. But I didn't even have anyone to distract me from it, which brings me back to this semester and my lack of a True Friend, which I'll get more into in Part 3: Pills and Pals.

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