My friend Ra is the reason I started blogging again. When I started blogging back in 2005, my posts were sporadic, amateur and without purpose. I was never part of the blogosphere – if such a thing existed back then – and as my first attempt at blogging, ultimately it fizzled out. Literally years went by between posts and I’d long since moved towards Twitter and Instagram.
In my time away from blogging, I was somewhat aware of this Rarasaur person through my wife, but it wasn’t until I started clicking through the profiles of her commenters on Instagram last October that I found Rarasaur blog.
I’m not sure I can properly describe what I found there. I spent a Sunday morning reading hours and hours of posts, exploring an intricate spider web of links. Every new browser tab revealed another story that brought me waves of emotion from sheer joyful delight to speechless despair. Ra’s words leapt off the page and lodged themselves in my heart. In short, I was moved.
Since then i’ve discovered a beautiful blogging community. I’ve been delighted to find the bloggers we have in common and constantly inspired by the stories and games that they all share. I’ve felt welcomed and encouraged and the words on screen have been good food for my soul. Honesty, compassion and respect abound in the ‘blokin’ community.
I trust my instincts. If I say that someone is my friend that’s because I truly consider them a positive force in my life. I trust them implicitly and i’ll stick by them through good or ill. I will do what I can to help them achieve their dreams. I found a good person that day who has since made my days all the brighter for knowing her.
For all the frightfully wondrous messages of love to come from her corner of the web, there’s no denying Ra has a lot to carry. She has a story no-one should have to tell. A story of loss and confinement; of prejudice, discrimination, and pain. She also has a story of love.
Her husband, Dave, passed away last year and every so often I learn a little more about him that makes me wish I’d met him. He sounds like a wonderful man and I can see how much he was loved by those who knew him. News of his sudden death reached Ra behind bars.
There are no words.
That’s right: Ra went to prison. It’s not the first thing I’d tell you about my friend. Not that i’d hide it, and neither does she – she has a book out and we are eagerly awaiting our copy – but I try to avoid labels. They victimise and dehumanise the best of us; and trust me when I say we are talking about one of the best of us here.
I don’t know the story. I don’t know, and I’ve never needed to know. If you want to tell me, I’ll listen, I’m here. But I don’t have a curiosity to be satisfied or a standard to measure your life against. The story doesn’t frame the way I feel about you.
This isn’t a post about my friend Ra, although I do hope you pay her a visit and see the same beautiful soul I see. This is a post about the assumptions we make and the social pressure that affects our choices. I awoke today to the horrifying realisation that Ra’s friends – my friends – have been targeted, harassed, and shamed for choosing to believe in someone.
I’m not naive. I’ve seen online bullying before, and it regularly rears its ugly head on social media like Twitter and Facebook, but this is too close to home. This is a community I care about being abused for doing what they do best: taking care of one of their own.
Whatever the reasons of the individuals behind it – hurt, ignorance, anger, misunderstanding – there has to be room for communication rather than confrontation. If you’re a victim of injustice I’m not saying you shouldn’t be angry; I’m not saying your pain isn’t real; I’m not trying to belittle or whitewash your experience. I haven’t lived it as you have.
But we haven’t all lived the same experiences. We couldn’t, of course, but we can share, we can empathise, we can relate. It takes bravery and open-mindedness. But if you can’t see past the labels – see a person there with the same hopes, dreams, fears and struggles as you – and you can’t respect the choices people make, good or bad, then you won’t ever close that gap and you won’t find peace.
We are a multitude of different cultures, opinions and experiences and that’s what I love about us humans. You might not know my friends like I do, but you choose which stories you believe and how you treat people. I don’t expect everyone to be the best of friends, but whatever our experiences, I do expect that we can be kind to one another.
We can, at least, be that.
All respectful comments are very welcome here