June 7, 2010
There is a huge chasm between looking at people and actually seeing them.
I guess this has been one of the themes of my life for the past year or two, both in personal experience, especially associated with love, and in professional experience. I work with ladies rescued from forced prostitution in India. I help train these ladies to make a product and then market this product.
Naturally, the best way to market a product with a story behind it is to show photos and tell the story of the people who made it. However, these ladies have been objectified their whole lives, and further using them to sell something is the last thing we want to do. I want people to know what strong, brave, bright women these ladies are. I want people to see them.
Sometimes I fear that people will merely look at their photos. That hearts will be filled with pity instead of respect or compassion. No one wants pity, not when we’re honest with ourselves. At least I think this to be so.
I don’t want someone looking at me and my baggage and thinking, “Oh that poor girl,” as if they have their lives all figured out, instead of thinking, “I know what that’s like.” I don’t know what it’s like to be forced into prostitution. But I know what it’s like to be treated as less than what I am. It’s only a degree of what these ladies have gone through, so I can only imagine their struggle. Being treated as a less-than hurts, especially when I begin believing the lies myself.
I’m amazed at how many people are looking for someone to really listen to them and respect what they have to say, in spite of disagreement. I like disagreements. I don’t like being disrespected. I once dated a guy who liked to prove his point a lot, at the sacrifice of hearing others, at the sacrifice of hearing me.
Looking and seeing. Listening and hearing. I use these words synonymously, but they are so, so different.