In a recent episode of Doctor Who, Clara delivers a memorable monologue to reassure a frightened child-who-will-one-day-be-the-Doctor (props Anibundel for the text):
“Fear is a superpower. Fear can make you faster and cleverer and stronger… Fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly. Fear can make you kind. It doesn’t matter if there’s nothing under the bed or in the dark so long as you know it’s okay to be afraid of it. So listen. If you listen to anything else, listen to this. You’re always gonna be afraid even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion, a constant companion, always there. But that’s okay because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home… Fear makes companions of us all.”
Lately I’ve felt pretty resigned to always being cowardly – that I’ll never be able to stand up to an abusive person and that I will always have this pathological need to see both peoples’ points of view about something (sometimes there really is only one person telling the truth) and to find ways that something bad that happened might have happened without bad motives (sometimes, though, some people do malicious things, plain and simple.)
So, one of the things Clara said seemed to be in bold, directed especially at me…
“Fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly. Fear can make you kind.”
Kind? So, cowardly I get – afraid to act at all – I get that – freezing. Cruel I get – the abused can become the abuser. And I could see cruel also being telling the victim you’ll do something on their behalf and then not doing it, or revictimizing them.
So, I’ve been thinking a lot about these lines. Like I said, they felt directed right at me. Especially the word “kind.” What could that mean? Was there something valuable here for me to take away or was I overthinking a pop-culture phenom?
So… I’ve come to the conclusion that “kind” here could mean decisive action on behalf of the likely victim, without pausing to ruminate on “both sides of a story.” It’s not turning the other cheek and expecting the victim to do so too, but grasping the likely abuser’s hand and forcefully saying “enough!”
So, I’m coming around to thinking that’s what it means – that fear can prompt you to take decisive action on the victim’s behalf. But how can I train my mind to make that the most likely response under pressure? I need to think about this some more. Expect a part two sometime.