So, this happened.
I’m still reeling.
Just for the record, I do not know the details of what went on. I have no clue about anyone’s actions, let alone anyone’s intents. I know, or maybe I should say I am familiar with, all the people mentioned in this story. I had all of them chalked up as good people in my book. ‘All of them’ includes the villain of the story.
I am not doubting that something nasty happened behind the scenes. There was obviously a breach of trust. And I know enough of each person to realize none would use a word like ‘abusive’ lightly. The details don’t matter. Not even the intent matters. Destructive behavior without destructive intent isn't any less destructive. Although I do hope the intent was good, because that would turn all of this into a lesson that can help make a better person. I hope no one will take offense at me mourning the loss of the person this man had presented on Medium. Because it had felt to me like he was building community.
It felt like he had the guts to build community.
(The rest of this story is no longer about specific people but about the abstract concept. I want that to be clear)
I have started writing this part for the seventh time now. Because no matter how I’m going to word my next point, it will end up calling myself -directly or indirectly- A Good Person. And that feels so wrong I’ve hovered over the ‘Delete draft’ option twice.
Of course, that is exactly my point.
Good people have to cope with thoughts that start with “Who am I to _____”(fill in the blank with whatever you wish). They doubt their own virtue. They doubt their own judgment. They doubt their own abilities.
Good people don’t want to impose. They don’t want to go where they are not wanted. They don’t want to burden others. They will hesitate reaching out in fear of causing more harm.
They will jump in without thought once someone reaches out to them, but for some reason feel it’s not their place to make that decision to reach out to someone themselves.
I’ve seen this in so many good people, it breaks my heart. I think so often “If only you could see what I see”. This incident made me think how it is always those who have a tendency to use others to take those first steps. That is not to cast judgment on those who do -everyone can rise above tendencies. It is just a truth I have learned, if using people comes easy to you it will be easy to ask things of others.
Here is the uncomfortable part: I wrote this thinking of the good people in my life. I read this and see myself, too. I am a good person.
That feels wrong coming from my fingers. Wait, I’ll do it again.
I am a good person.
Maybe it will get easier with time. Probably not.
I have not reached out to anyone in the way I wanted to yet. Who am I to give my input? Why would I think they are waiting for my words? But when I consider my motives, they are pure. I genuinely want to help. I genuinely want to connect. I want to share my joy and pain and wonder.
There it is. My comfort zone. Clearly defined. Now I have to step out of it. Stepping out means good people will come join me. But above all else, it means that I will take up room that would potentially be occupied by someone who is not genuine. Someone less worried about causing harm.
Knowing what should be done and actually doing it are a world apart. It’s scary stepping out, but I am going to make this effort.
Leah Stella Stephens 🐀 what you are doing is so great. I just had to tell you. You are my role model now for getting myself out of my comfort zone.
Special thanks to S Lynn Knight for taking a chance with me and letting me help with The Weekly Knob, even though I had/have so little clue what I’m doing. We already are building a community and the experience has been amazing. It’s what gives me the confidence to go a step further.
On a personal note, Geoff Atkins is allowed to say “I told you so” only if he admits to being a good person, too. You are one of the people I was thinking of when I wrote this.
There are a lot of writers I should be mentioning and I will at some point, for now I will just have to issue a general ‘Thank You’ for all your stories.