Finding Value

Everything in life has value. Even the darkest of actions of hate and revenge have value. You just have to be open enough and aware of your emotions, feelings and thoughts to see that value. And if you aren’t aware enough, you will never see that value, the bigger picture, and so choose anger, hate and revenge over kindness, compassion and empathy.

When I was watching the last episode of Game of Thrones season 5, I saw Jon Snow face his death from a wound to the heart. Not from who you would expect but from his own colleagues, the Night’s Watch. They saw him as a traitor, someone who had let the side down and had opposed everything they thought the Night’s Watch stood for.

Jon Snow had seen, could see, the bigger picture. He had compassion for the Wildlings, those unlike himself yet were still human beings with human frailties and who needed the safety of the Wall to stand against a bigger and more savage enemy. Those in the Night’s Watch were so blinded by their own hate and revenge, they could not see the good in Jon’s actions and so sought their vengeance upon him rather than the Wildlings.

So unexpected was this that I felt a stab to my own heart. For so many years I was full of compassion and understanding for people. I could tune into people and identify with them on a very deep level. I could see the bigger picture when others could not. Because I challenged people on a deeply subconscious level to face their own demons, they sought to diminish me, to shame and discredit me, in order for them to feel safer in themselves and thus ignore those fears.

And all because I wanted, needed, to express myself, to voice who I am at the core of my being. What sort of world do we live in where you have to ask permission from others to be yourself? Why is it only religion that can define what is right and what is wrong?

My life as a transgendered person was fraught with doubts, hesitations and uncertainties together with the ever present belief in my unworthiness and destructive feelings of self-hate and self-judgment. I had no value, I learnt I had no value. The signals I got from people over the decades were that I was useless and pointless, that I shouldn’t exist, that I shouldn’t be in their presence.

We live in a world full of reflections. We live in relation to others. We cannot know ourselves unless we see ourselves reflected by those we are in relation to. And this covers just about everyone we meet during our journey between the dots of life. How could we see the pain within if we had no one to reflect it back to us? In order to lessen our pain, the empty void we try to fill, we first need to know it exists and then acknowledge it.

Society has changed beyond all recognition as we no longer see the value in people or what experiences they can bring to us for our learning. We see more value in the financial riches we can accumulate, seeking to increase this year upon year at the expense of the other people who inhabit our fragile planet.

We see more value in the distraction of technology, of ever more trinkets to keep us away from looking within; mobile phones, social media, computer games, high cost branded goods cheaply made in third world countries.

We see more value in highly paid footballers earning millions of pounds a year rather than we do in the doctors, nurses and care home staff paid very little in comparison to the benefit they bring to society. Discount these at your peril.

We see more value in highly paid financial experts and big businesses who syphon large sums into offshore tax free accounts than we do in the train drivers, bus drivers, dustbin collectors, toilet cleaners, social workers and teachers. It is these undervalued who oil the wheels of society to keep it running properly. Discount these at your peril.

Politicians and religious leaders constantly advance their own agendas by focusing the attention on minorities who have little support in the general population. Divide and conquer is a well-worn concept whose time has come and gone; the sell-by date has passed.

Politicians and religious leaders spin their words like a spider’s web to catch and demolish their prey. Their motivation comes from an innate void of emptiness which they try to fill with the spoils of their perceived war against enemies that don’t exist but are manufactured to excuse their actions. I am still surprised at how easy it is for people to lose compassion and kindness for their fellow human beings. And saddened by it.

Politicians and religious leaders complain that people rarely follow the principles set down by them. Can they really expect anything else when they give us such an ethically and morally corrupt example? We are all the sum of our experiences and our leaders are no different. What sort of experiences colours their life to such an extent that they lose kindness, compassion and empathy for another?

No matter how hard you try to satiate the feeling of emptiness, the loss of value, by whatever means, it will never be satisfied. The void of emptiness cannot be filled with material things for it is infinitely deep.

It can only be filled with understanding; an understanding of why the emptiness is there. It is an emotional pain formed over many years and beginning in childhood. When all of your life is about being bullied and vilified, identified as different, a feeling of unworthiness develops. None of us can escape this feeling or these experiences. They are part of being human.

Many choose to distract themselves from the pain of emptiness by external means such as blaming and scapegoating. Very few choose to turn inwards and stare at the pain and work with it, accepting it as part of the bigger picture. Humans are programmed to run from pain. It takes great courage to walk towards pain and to embrace it. The outcome of being free of pain is its own reward. The answer to pain lies in the pain.

When you choose to devalue another person, you begin your own devaluation and eventual fall from grace. When you choose to devalue another person, you start a cascade which damages society, fracturing groups and communities and generates many more scapegoats. When you lift someone, you both rise to greater heights.

I chose to turn inwards on a journey of discovery; not to wallow and not to become a victim, but to comprehend. This was a journey of reconciliation and understanding painted in the colours of forgiveness. I found my value once again by looking at the reflections and understanding the signs those reflections gave.

How many of us are truly aware and conscious of ourselves and our actions? Not many perhaps as the world would be in a far better shape if we were.