Reflecting on progress
May 23, 2012 Comments Off on Reflecting on progress
This week Ravi was given his sentence. Maybe there is no other “issue” closer to my heart than suicide. During my training to become a suicide prevention support person, we were presented with an analogy: If a paper bag is full of groceries and a can of soup is added to the bag and the bag breaks, it is not the can of soup that is responsible for breaking the bag. The bag cannot hold the weight of all of the combined groceries. We cannot blame suicide on one event or on one person’s actions toward another.
Ravi’s actions toward Clementi were horrific, obnoxious, immature, and loathsome. But I do not think Ravi is the only one responsible for Clementi’s suicide. In a society where people can run for president and get away with laughing off an assault on a peer based on the suspected sexual orientation of that person, why should Ravi be singled out, vilified? I have bullied people. (I have been bullied, too.) I know how addictive bullying can be. Because the alternative to bullying is exposure of oneself or imagined exposure. Being mean is a way of hiding in plain sight and giving up the ability to hide can be terrifying.
Ravi didn’t apologize, but how could he? I imagine it would feel like his own death to apologize.
I am very sad for Clementi’s family and very proud of the queer community for their outrage, passion, and drive. People are talking about issues like bullying, homophobia, and suicide. That feels like huge progress. How many LGBTQ people now know about The Trevor Project?
I believe Ravi is deeply sorry for his actions. He has the rest of his life to reflect and take ownership for what he’s done. He is accountable to himself and the task of growing and changing remains in his hands. It’s not about the number of days that Ravi will spend in prison. His behaviors were those of extremes, but we do ourselves a favor when we pause to self-reflect. I’d rather think about how I am in the world and the little things I can do to be more compassionate, loving, and supportive.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a little girl to raise. Happy four months, Zevi! I hope this world continues to be good to you.