Spoiler: She doesn’t!
Let me explain.
This is Patti Smith. This is her post on Instagram and you see what she posted:
the Atomic Bomb Dome,
that withstood the terrible
destruction from the first
atomic bomb dropped in
human history. Then it was
surrounded by the ashes
and debris of humanity.
It remains, a cenotaph,
a resilient ghostly witness
containing the vibrations
of thousands of lost souls.
Today in Hiroshima, 75 bells
toll in remembrance of the
indescribable horror suffered
on August 6, 1945. A stain
upon us, never to be repeated,
and never to be forgotten.
Most replies where heartfelt pain and the wish for this to never, never repeat and I am grateful for that. There is a great strength, vulnerability and empathy is a response that acknowledges the pain. A strong and open heart is needed to hold the horror and loss that happened that day. It’s hard just to keep looking, to not be distracted, to not derail or justify.
The following reactions could be witnessed in the comments as well. Let me quote some, so you get an idea:
“Wasn’t it the Japanese who attacked the USA first? Why is the USA always portrayed as the evil one. Anti-Americanism.”
“Remember the hundreds of thousands of innocent Chinese, Filipino and others murdered by the Japanese. Remember Pearl Harbor. Let’s get the history right here.”
“And this is just one of the atrocities committed by imperial Japan.”
“it had to be done for our safety and freedom”
First of all, kudos to Patti Smith for acting with patience, grace and compassion. From what I see, her replies are short and to the point, no blame no judgement, no shaming. Just adding some information, the other person might have been missing to see the full picture. There’s so much to learn here. It looks like she doesn’t get triggered, or annoyed, assuming this is said by a good person, wanting to do the right thing, just missing some information.
Now here’s the thing: This could have been me. The comments I picked out and that at times make my fingers itch for a righteous reply could have been me. I didn’t say that, but I am sure the internet somewhere remembers – let’s call them – less informed comments… That do not represent what I am thinking these days.
This makes the whole post and the patience and care of Patti’s response so beautiful. Because if it would have been me calling me being called stupid would have caused me to shut down and grab my option tighter and defend my position. Yet Patti left a door open to gracefully question my opinion, to open up and be receptive to the new information that was presented without judgement. This is how you get me to question my position. And I think this is how we can bridge divides.
Looking at my own story when I was in what I think was a similar mindset from where these comments come from I was hurting and not even aware of my hurt. I felt so small and fragile that I needed to defend everything. Admitting a mistake was out of the question and feeling pain without resolve was impossible. I would do everything to dodge the pain.
I do not know how I got here. Now I – mostly – can allow the pain without it shattering me. I can – more often than not – acknowledge the suffering without being pushed into defensiveness. I think this is what freedom feels like and I wholeheartedly wish everyone including myself the freedom and grace to reply calmly and with compassion to those comments leaving a door open for the person to rethink the standpoint from a position of freedom and acceptance.