I grew up in a culture that thought itself liberated and equal, but which tolerated and even encouraged ideas and images that now repel me. Within the confines of that culture, it is difficult to sometimes see the subtle harm occasioned to men and women*. 

For many years i worked on trying to deal with the social evil of domestic violence (i was in charge of law reform over here for a two decades), something so deeply rooted in our society that it is difficult to get to a point where you can find solutions. 

Uncertainty can be found in the simplest places. 

I showed this image of two Flying Duck Orchid blooms from the Clyde Mountain to a friend - but try as they might, they could not see the ducks. They simply saw a tangle. So too most social issues. One might see a problem and a clear solution - another might simply see uncertainty. What does that tell us about ourselves? In the case of my flower, it is clearly not a duck. I must concede it is a tangle. But still...

Within us all there is a sensitivity to all types of social issues. Each voice here is all the stronger by not being silent, but examining more closely the issues of implicit permission and behavior that already sit on the edge of social commentary.

I remember the first time someone challenged my own thinking on these issues. I found it bruising, perhaps brutal. For a time, just alienated me even more. Still, it was a change point in my life. I make no claims to be over the social programming. It is reinforced everywhere, in music, art and the general media. But now i see it, and recognize it for the risks it holds.

This is still a flower, although it only has one petal. 

Order is about uncertainty. All around us is uncertainty. Order is something that comes to each person individually. You make sense of part of the world, understand it, appreciate vulnerabilities and risk. Just because you have established order in your own mind, does not mean that others suddenly get it as well. 

But the order in you have established can be infectious, can be transmitted and can remove some of the vulnerabilities and risks that others might need to face. 

Just as often, your order may be destructive. It may serve only to advance your own desires for a world free from the need to self-doubt. This 'negative' order becomes a prison for yourself and a burden for those around, where everything you do is fixed in purpose, and does not vary according to the way the uncertainty impacting on others changes the way you should act.

So, do we see a mantid - or is it just a flower?

*update: Some phrases are so embedded in language that they fall off the tongue without thought, when thought should be applied. A couple of years ago I wrote a story including a gender indeterminate character - both the challenge of placing myself in their shoes and using language to respect the character was very difficult, and perhaps, always destined to fail. That those who live that reality are now reshaping the language that constrains roles is of keen interest to me, and I wish them well. For my own part, I will try to be more careful with the use of old formula from the past.


Anonymous said…
Thank you for this post on an incredibly important issue.

It all has to do with the ability and desire to look outside yourself, to have empathy (imagine yourself in someone else's position) and a certain amount of self-critisism or rather a desire for self-development and growth. That and not putting your own interest above that of others.

For some people, who are used to be in a favorable spot, this feels as if they would lose their privilege. However in reality it is about equality for all.
Peter Quinton said…
Thank you Anonymous (Issue)
I appreciate your insights.

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