Over the summer, I was sitting by the side of the boating pond in Greenwich park. My son and a friend were happily pedalling in their boat and my attention was drawn to another boat with 5 children in it between the ages of 7 and 11. There was also an older group of teenage boys on the side of the pond opposite me, who were throwing green pond slime at this boat of children, who were beginning to raise their voices and squeal a little in response to this.
I noticed the voices in my head that stopped me from stepping in “Who am I say anything? These children must have adults around here. There are also the young men running the boats, why aren’t they doing anything? The bigger kids are just playing ... it’s a bit of boisterous, roughhousing play.”
I know what I could have said, that’s the fairly easy part. I could have checked with the children on the boat if they were enjoying this game? And if I’d got a “No!”, I could have shouted at the bigger kids “The children in the boat are not happy with this game. And I want everyone to enjoy themselves and play safely. Can you stop throwing slime?”
And if it needed more, I could have brought myself and the context in more “I feel anxious watching this, I’m worried that someone could end up splatted with slime, or even fall off the boat. I want everyone to be enjoying their time around this lake.”
The thing was I didn’t say anything. So why didn’t I?
It seems that I didn’t have clarity about my role in this situation. In a world that wants to separate us from each other, neighbour from neighbour, country from country, continent from continent, somehow I have bought into that story that “It’s not my place. There is someone else whose role this is.”
But it was me who saw the children on the boat. I was an observer; actually I was the only aware person there. Isn’t that reason enough to speak? Suddenly, I see that I could have slipped into the role of ‘guardian’ temporarily. Those children could have experienced an advocate who clearly was seeing them, and who cared to speak up for them.
I can see that I was believing society’s prescription around separation of role and that only people with the correct authority to intervene can do so. I’m wondering if, to debunk this myth, I can hold and cultivate the consciousness of what I most clearly am (aware, caring, observing) with a higher level of value than what society ascribes to this (interfering? nosy? domineering?) I will see if it encourages me to move in direction of stepping in, without me employing ‘should’ and ‘have to’ to motivate myself, which is what I’ve been employing in my life until now, without much efficacy.
I acknowledge the empathic support of Show (Shougen Horoiwa)in helping me get clarity around this, which is another form of nonviolent input in my life.
Written for the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2016 http://www.instantblogsubscribers.com/entry/Zhana21/287256/The+Blogging+Carnival+for+Nonviolence+2016