There’s a woman who works at a shop I go to sometimes; She has a disfigured face.
A lump protrudes above her eye-ball and there is scarring down her cheeks.
She’s also small; almost a midget.
I don’t really look at her because I worry that by doing so I will offend her.
I do this despite knowing that by not looking at her I am labelling her as something not to be looked at.
That I am depriving her of the fundamental human necessity of being recognized as a fellow human being; the most basic form of which is eye contact and a look in the face.
It’s just to make eye-contact; or to even look at her face, feels like taking a dive off a cliff.
Not because she is ugly but because I am worried that it’s not socially appropriate to stare at deformed people.
Plus I don’t really know when a normal “looking at” becomes a “staring”.
She must be constantly reminded of her face in the eyes of others.
Downcast like mine or staring like someone braver.
It must be an inescapable fact of her life.
In the morning she must look in the mirror and think “I am ugly” on a verbal or non-verbal level.
Was she born like it?
The first gift from God, right after life begins: ugliness.
Growing up, going through school and puberty knowing that you are not attractive.
Looking at everyone else and marking yourself as inferior.
Children can be beastly.
I don’t mean that in the Edwardian aristocratic sense: “Oh, you are beastly.”
I mean it in the sense that children can be cruel.
They will happily spend hours methodically dismembering one beetle after another; without feeling any sympathy or remorse.
Children would physically dismember each other if only they had the strength.
Instead they do it psychologically.
They mentally dismember the object of their cruelty; when that object is another human child.
Like piranhas swarming round a thrashing monkey they bite and they bite; until the monkey’s form is revealed in it’s skeletal decrepitude.
You will never gain mercy from a child.
I think it’s because they have this belief; somewhere deep down and hidden from the lens of language.
A belief that they are the centre of the universe.
Maybe even that they are the only person that really is.
The only Being in a Being-less world.
That everything and everyone is a mere fiction created for their pleasure or pain; depending on what context the child is in.
I know this from experience.
And sadly I don’t have the solace gained from the moral high-ground; I was bullied and I bullied.
I revelled in the cruelty endemic to youth.
I can’t hide behind the fact that I was just trying to fit in.
It’s that very drive that causes the bullying in the first place.
It’s like saying I’m not responsible for the bath over-flowing I just turned the tap.
(I’m going to have to re-hash my opinions on free-will; it’s not that I believe we have free-will. It’s just that I don’t think free-will or determinism are appropriate terms for human actions)