Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sharing Secrets

Sometimes it just feels good to share. Sometimes, that sharing can save a life.

I recently came across this site where people from all over the world can send in either a handmade or purchased postcard with a secret scrawled across it. The idea is not only to provide an interesting forum for folks like me to take a small peep in to the lives of strangers, it also reminds each one of us that we are not alone.

The postcard not only tell a secret because it may feel good to be private, but they may also help to avoid problems such as the killings at Virginia Tech, or suicide. I think we horde around a lot of fear, anger, secrets...and that contributes to our society. This forum appears to give a platform for people to release – even if that means to strangers. For some, I think it curbs their demise.

I regularly visit Feministing, a blog that pulls articles off the wire (nearly hourly some days) that have key words such as misogyny, gender, violence against women, rape, and so on. Yesterday they presented a postcard with a statue of a young woman curled in to her own body. Around her were the words of the sender: her secret….

“After I was date-raped I dated and slept with the guy who did it three more times. I hoped that if I could make it a ‘real’ relationship I wouldn’t have to admit to myself that the rape was real.”

For many rape survivors just holding it in slowly deteriorates the mind, body and soul of the victim. This site may have relieved her of her pain, and by making her secret public, she may be able to move forward, and past the event. While her void may never be filled, the idea of dropping some of the weight off of her shoulders must be intense.

However, it is my contention that our American culture does not typically allow for this type of reaching out.

We live in an individualistic, capitalistic society where the American Dream means getting to the top, having money, knocking others on their ass – AKA oppression, and having an air of egotistical fluff.

Indeed there has been a flurry of articles written about a recent report on narcissism. Folks growing up in the last 30 years, or so, have been coined the “Mister Rodgers” generation. We are told that we are special, that we are the best. But the reality is that we are just as special as the kid next to us. How many of us came home crying about a schoolyard taunt, only to be told that everyone is just jealous. Maybe instead of smoothing over these possible truths, we ought to stop and look at our faults; make a difference in our own lives. Not caring about ourselves means we don’t care about others, which eventually leads to the apathetic nation of young people, we are now living shoulder to shoulder with.

That individualistic drive forces families apart, allows for the crumbling of relationships, and perpetuates stereotypes and "isms", as if one is the “enemy,” they can be easily left behind. It is moral fight that we are losing.

For example, the Virginia Tech mass murder last week. Here we have a young man who could have used a little aid. His ex-roommates and teachers tout themselves -- post-massacre -- for seeing this “mad man” who had no friends, was quiet and angry. Instead of offering a hand at the moment of notification, it appears that the world simply closed their doors on him. For many, the American ideal includes pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. And if you can’t help yourself, don’t expect a hand.

Think about how with each passing year the perpetuation of anti-socialist and communist ideals flow in our country. We wouldn’t want to ever accept a world where people live in a humble commune, where harmony, sharing and equality are key aspects to healthy living. And I am not talking about not being able to express oneself -- not a life under a dictator or severe governmental law -- but rather a world where we just give and take in a more fair fashion. But alas…

Oh no, we need to make money, and that simply means leaving the less fortunate behind. Meaning, leave those who are women, minorities, mentally disabled, overweight, poor, liberal, and so on, behind. There is no time to lend a hand, or to listen to their secrets; we must push on as a nation…

I just don’t see the value in this.

We wonder why there is so much violence day, after day, after day.

Maybe we need to reach out and write a postcard.