Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The gamble of how to not hurt people

Hurting people, and guilt, is generally a really important theme when discussing empathy, however empathy is defined. When is it worth doing something that will hurt someone else is an interesting question for people to discuss frequently, to determine how much pain is too much and where values lie.

Or, on the other hand, the guilt of doing that, of hurting them, how does it affect you? Disproportional responses occur, in both directions, people who feel guilt too much, and those who feel guilt too little. They're interesting for people to discuss, stories that are talked about.

But me, I don't know what to do. I don't want to hurt people. I don't know how to not. I feel guilty, because I didn't know and didn't make that decision. It is too strong of a response, because its unpredictable. I didn't know it would happen.

Because I cannot understand what hurts others and what doesn't, I cannot understand if an action I would do might hurt someone else. I cannot know if something like saying 'I don't like that gift' will be something that will hurt someone badly. And because I don't know, I won't do it. If I knew it wouldn't, then I'd be fine, but I don't know. (I mean I can say now that in most cases it'd probably be fine, but saying it now and being able to understand it in real time are not the same; understanding in real time is far more difficult). So, I'll always take the not understanding in the way that's least risky, in terms of hurting others. It's the safest move for me.

Because they can say "you won't hurt people", but I do and I don't know why or how. People do react like I've hurt them, and they do it unpredictably, and they act like what I've done is terrible. And I don't know what I've done wrong. And when I don't know if its them or me, and I don't know what to do and what not to do, when all I know is that there are things that hurt people, and that some of the things that make people uncomfortable I can't help but do sometimes, and if I don't do always you're spending a huge amount of your energy just on that...

Then, what would you do? I always have a gamble, every action is a gamble. Will this one be one that bothers people or not? Because I don't actually know. Because I don't actually know those rules of what hurts and what doesn't. There seem to be unspoken rules, that people know, that mean certain things are allowed in certain situations and not in others, and certain things are never allowed, and I don't know them. All I know is that I don't want to hurt people.

So instead I take those least risky moves. Because if I need to gamble, I'll play it safe. Because even that's a gamble, and even that fails sometimes.

And doing that, that's not not acting not true to myself. That's not knowing what to do. It's not saying "I'd rather do A, but I'll do B instead". It's simply not knowing. And wanting to not hurt, because I hurt when I hurt someone else. I feel guilty, and I hurt because they hurt, and I don't know what will happen.

So I do what I can for me when I can. And when I don't know, then I do what I can to not hurt others.

Even if sometimes that means that I don't know what I'm doing at all.

Because what I'm doing here is living without knowledge when others have it. But the gambling game when they are playing a different sort seems to be working out well enough so far.

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