The "C" Word and the "B" word

by Tamar Kay
Copyright © Tamar Kay.

"C" is for "Community," a word that many of us believe can, and should, mean more than our shared interests and occasional gatherings.

I would like to believe community means respect for each other, for the courage it takes to be who we are, and to live the way we are called to live. Respect for those who do not share our kinks. Respect, even, for those we don't like.

"B" is for "battle."

There are times to question anther's actions, times to object to what someone has said or done. There are times to take friends aside and tell them that what they said maybe didn't come out the way they meant it to. There are times to talk about what someone has done -- as factually as possible -- in order to try to save someone else from getting hurt.

There are even times to complain about individuals and groups, to say how much better things would have gone if only we had been in charge.

And then there are times when discretion is the better part of valor. Times to turn from harsh words to respectful silence.

This community is like an extended family, and as much as we might wish, not everyone in the family acts the way we want them to. At the family reunion little Bobby draws on the walls, grandma thinks it's cute, and Aunt Sally screams at them both. We don't always get along and it's likely we won't. But we can try. At this family reunion, would you stand in front of the family and yell out that grandma is a stupid old woman, or that Bobby is a worthless child?

Is the issue, whatever it is, worth that much pain? Is it worth starting a battle?

Maybe, and maybe not. A battle can last a long time. Ask yourself if it might not be easier to solve the problem yourself, one-on-one, instead of drawing lines and involving others. Ask yourself if a community this small can afford to splinter into bitter, resentful camps. Ask yourself if you could do it another way.

When you stand on stage, you represent our community. In those moments think carefully about what you say and do because your actions speak for all of us. Whether you're leading a march, teaching a class, giving a demonstration, or simply being yourself in a public place, you represent us. If you treat the community with honor and respect, it will treat you similarly.

We all make mistakes. I have some advice for you if you do: say so and let it go. If someone else does, say so -- as kindly as you can -- and let it go. Let's all work toward living more in the present than in the past.

Maybe you think this article doesn't apply to you, and maybe you're right. But things sometimes sneak up on us when we least expect them.

I ask a few moments of your time. I ask you to think about what I've said here, about how you can put more of yourself into the "C" word and less into the "B" word.

This is our community. It is what we make of it. Respect begets respect.

Copyright © Tamar Kay.

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