I am thinking big thoughts.
I am thinking about evil, about the act of allying, about oppression and anti-oppression, about the thoughts shaping actions and the problems of thought police, about babies and bathwater and deep waters we drown in and deep waters that sustain us.
I am thinking about the importance of high standards, the importance of forgiveness, the need to not give a pass to hateful behavior, the need to not blow up everyone because no one is perfect.
I am thinking of “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” and “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” (and the misogyny and ableism in popular quotes).
I am thinking of the absolute wrongness of “love the sinner but hate the sin” and the absolute necessity to label the action, not the person.
I am thinking about the difference between “I can’t be bothered to do any work” and “one more thing I have to watch myself on, worry over, obsess about might actually do me in”.
I am thinking about feelings, and centering, and bullying, and lateral marginalization, and interpersonal communication.
I am thinking about nuance, and about spectra of color, and about the beauty and allure of stark contrast.
I wonder: To what standard do we, should we, hold our icons? Our forebears? Ourselves? Are we allowed to say any good of those who do bad? I do not believe in anyone being pure evil, capable only of badness; nonetheless I believe there is evil out there, and humans are so good at being bad to each other. Is there some level, some litmus, at which point one is “too far gone”? Is it possible or useful to say that everyone deserves respect and kindness, when some simply will not return in kind?
I know this: there are no perfect people. I am not perfect. I have failed. (Oh hello ciscentric, trans-faily post from a year ago.) Is there a difference between me and Cho? Between Cho and Daly? Between Daly, who praised extermination, and the Inquisition, which tried it? There must be, somewhere. But are we to measure evil? (Is evil even the right word?) Do we determine the acceptable by whether we measure with teaspoons or bushels? These are not rhetorical questions.
Those two cases are about trans issues (cis privilege, transphobia, transmisogyny), but these ponderings are about so much more: it’s about saying CIO is wrong without saying parents who do CIO should have their children taken away. It’s about saying that the USian foster system is broken, but maybe some families are worse. It’s about saying that we can’t demand romance-movie-flawless relationships, but no one deserves beatings or belittling. It’s about having ideals, while living breathtakingly, heartbreakingly human lives — without using that reality to excuse atrocities.
I don’t know where the lines are. I don’t know what the answers are. I know someone can meet all the checkboxes (of whatever list we care to name) and still be, fundamentally, an asshole — and someone can miss the lists, fuck up regularly, and still be, fundamentally, someone I want as my friend.
I don’t personally know any of the people nominated for Lesbian/Bisexual Woman of the Decade. I know some of them have messed up, and some continue to mess up, to hurt, to oppress, to marginalize, in some serious ways. I know we mustn’t, and I know I don’t want to, ignore or minimize any of that. Yet I also do not want to sit as judge for who is enlightened enough, good enough, perfect enough for us to celebrate and embrace — to judge the worth of a person based on checklists — when I know perfection does not exist, and I do not know how to find or define good enough; when I pray every day to avoid being so judged. But if I fail to try, am I the one allowing evil? I fear I am. I fear my trying would have me doing evil.
I am thinking big thoughts.
I’ve yet to think big answers.