Do You Believe Me?
Trusting someone and having faith in someone are two different concepts, sometimes used interchangeably. Trusting someone is what you do with people you love and have known for some time. Having faith in someone is what you do with strangers. Right now, I need to you to trust me.
I need you to believe me.
I am sensitive. I remember crying about the plot of Sophie’s Choice without watching the movie. Years ago. (How could she pick the little girl?) Younger me cried in a restaurant about a fictional, desperate mother and the girl that got the brunt of it without knowing what for. Younger me also cried, at night, when all of my thoughts swirled around - and still do, about a particular moment in the Zeebrugge disaster. Brought to my attention by a philosophy book, it goes like this: “In the Zeebrugge disaster in 1987, when a car ferry sank and dozens of passengers were struggling to get out of the icy sea, a young man climbing to safety on a rope ladder froze with fear and could not move. He stayed in that position for at least ten minutes, stopping anyone else from getting out of the sea. If they didn’t get out quickly they would drown or die from cold. Eventually those in the water pulled him off the ladder and managed to escape to safety. The young man fell off the ladder into the sea and drowned.“ I’m quoting the philosophy book in question, A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton. That excerpt ends with a note about “probably the right thing to do.” (How do you know, Nigel?) When I was younger I felt a deep connection with that so far unnamed young man, it is still a “soft” topic for me now. I have anxiety, so I can understand what it feels like when your expression of fear or misery makes you worthless. (They pulled him off. He was frozen in fear…fear of drowning…they pulled him off…he drowned…they pulled him into the very thing he was scared to death of…’scuse me, bitch?) I am sensitive.
Do you believe me? Do you believe that it is okay, even better than average, to be sensitive? Do you believe I can stay kind and anxious, that I don’t need to harden myself?
I do not want anyone to die. I made a promise, a long time ago, that I will never kill anyone, and never let anyone die. You’d think this was unnecessary, you’d think - how could you ever be caught in a situation where you’d need to control yourself in that way? Well, I’ll never know when my Zeebrugge might come. I know myself. No matter the situation - I’ll get it tattooed on my arm if I have to - I will never kill anyone, nor let anyone die. I’ll fight my own dark side, when it comes out. I do not want anyone to die.
Do you believe me? Do you, like me, believe you can come back from anything except for death? Do you believe that civility is different from true kindness? I am not civil. I wouldn’t ever become a martyr. Do you believe that true pacifism is not being passive, but being enthusiastically restrictive of the dark sides of yourself and others?
The thing is, I care if you believe me. Because I am sensitive. But I shouldn’t care - I didn’t promise you I wouldn’t ever kill anyone, I don’t need to hear your proclamations that I’ll act differently in a crisis than I would normally, I know that, but I will restrain any dark side that comes. I promised myself, I will hold myself to it.
I honestly believe I’m here to provide some balance within the world.
But not within myself.