Awareness of Impact

I have always considered the virtue “Awareness of Impact” as a sign of maturity. Children do not initially notice the impact they have on their environment. They don’t notice their parents’ exhaustion as infants and toddlers. Or that their aunts, uncles, grandparents and neighbors quickly and silently remove harmful items from ground level when they visit. Those of us who are childless often imagine that parents lose this awareness concerning their children in public places. And adults everywhere wonder about this lack of awareness among adolescents. But for the most part, we as a culture expect adults to have this awareness. The reality however is that most adults in this culture are blissfully unaware past some arbitrarily low limit.

This lack of awareness struck me just now as I moved my car in anticipation of the street cleaners. Every Tuesday and Wednesday here in my urban neighborhood, my neighbors and I engage in a well rehearsed dance – moving our cars from one side to the other to escape a parking ticket. And so I had to move my car from the side of the street that will be cleaned today. So I started up my car, checked for traffic, and pulled into the alley in preparation for backing into the space in front of my house. I have done it a thousand times. I normally can do it so seamlessly that several of my neighbors have commented that they wished they could drive like me.

But today something happened. A single car, when I checked in both directions, was just about a block a way when I began backing into the street. But he was driving so fast that by the time I was slipping into the space, he was right up on me. He was driving so fast that I stopped completely. I stopped to make him stop. I wanted some wiggle room in case I needed to pull forward again, and he was already too close already. So once I was sure he would stop, I continued backing up, but as I backed up he drove forward just as fast. So by the time I was in the space he was beside my car. We each stopped and looked at each other.

I was annoyed, but I was not really angry. That is when it hit me. He was looking at me the way I was looking at him. After a short pause, he pulled off and I pulled forward to straighten my wheels.

Then I sat there for a moment. I reviewed everything that happened and then it hit me. He thought *I* had done something wrong. He may very well have thought that he was completely in the right. Oh okay, now that made me very angry. Then another thought entered my mind, he then had no idea what the impact of his actions had on me.

What if I had been like those neighbors of mine, and needed to pull in and out a couple of times to completely park? What if the space had not been big enough for my car and I had needed to pull up to another parking space? What if I had panicked and hit one of the cars on either side of me? Now the anger passed and I was back in amazement.

And what was my impact on him? I made him wait as I parked my car. In fact if I had not stopped, I would have been out of his way by the time he reached my car. Maybe he had timed it just right for that eventuality? So in effect, I was as completely unaware as he.

So I came back inside and sat a bit before returning to my work.

Where else am I blind to my own impact? What if all the things that bug me about life, about people and about this entire freaking culture was the result of this lack of awareness on all our parts?

I lit some incense and turned inward with prayer. I pray that the gods increase my awareness of the impact of my actions on myself and on those around me. And I also pray that I slow down enough to become aware of others as I travel on my journeys and wanderings. And I thank that fast driving man for showing me a slice of my own blindness. Ashe. Blessed Be.

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Tue, 09/16/2008 - 1:04pm.

Reya (not verified) | Sun, 09/21/2008 - 1:39pm

That guy was just a raging dickhead, looking for a fight.

You're the most respectful person I've ever known.

don't waste one more second worrying about him!! I'm so glad you're safe.

»

katrina | Sun, 09/21/2008 - 5:57pm

You may be right about his intentions, I don't know. I did not feel like I was in danger, but the episode did make stop and think a bit. Thanks for the compliment. Me, I hope I am respectful. I do try. But I also need to work on my boundaries too. Working them both at the same time is a helpful challenge esp for me.

Today, I had a good workout as I asked a near by woman at Rose Park in Georgetown to lower her voice so folks could hear in the Connect DC ritual. She really challenged me, but I kept my balance. I listened to her as respectfully as I could while returning continually to my request. Once she was assured that (a) I was truly listening to her and not trying to force her to do anything, (b) that we were not a bunch of "Fundamentalist supporters" of McCain and finally (c) that we were a bunch of nature loving pagans ... it all turned out well. I even gave her a card listing all of our upcoming rituals.

love you Reya ... thanks for your support.

»

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Recent comments

  • Nephthys (not verified)

    I've been with Firefly for a number of years, I recently left my position at The Firefly Community to pursue other dreams but to be clear how much I was involved before I address the statements made, I was a teacher, Priestess, member of the Inner Circle of the Council of Elders, Course Contributor, Clergy, Delegate and Divination reader so I was quite involved with Firefly on many levels.

    I am offended by your statement that Firefly is cultish. Given my involvement as listed above I can safely say that Firefly members are not cultish in behaviour nor is Firefly cultish in of itself. I am no longer involved with Firefly in any strong capacity other than that of a student so I can also safely say this is not coming from a blind faith position. I will be the first to admit that part of the reason I left Firefly was because I did not agree with some of the changes Lady Iris intended to make, that being said, I don't support the idea that abuse should be turned into a political statement.

    I don't know Sean and I am not close to Lady Iris (I live in a different country) and have not commented on the situation with her marriage but some of his behaviours are reprehensible. If a President did this he would be impeached and booted so I fail to see why it should be ignored and relegated to 'personal marital issues' when behaviour like this is indicative of larger psychological issues. If Sean Bennett is allowed to use and abuse women in this fashion, eventually he would work his way through the single ladies in the OHF and what would you be left with?

    1 year 51 weeks ago
  • Virginia Carper (not verified)

    I for one have been pondering this question. Iris did highlight a valuable point - how are checks and balances established to prevent potential abuse and to air concerns. These are hard lessons that groups need to learn.

    Without denying people their agency, how do you set up a system that will prevent abuse by other members? How far does a group go to ensure the mental and emotional safety of the adult members?

    For example, I know with my disability (brain injury), I would deeply resent being told that the group is looking out for my best interests. It would seem to be paternalistic on the group's part to assume that I cannot fend for myself. But because of my disability, I can be easy prey for a con-artist. How do you solve a dilemma like that? Can this be encoded or is this sort of thing too nebulous to pin down?

    2 years 5 days ago
  • Virginia Carper (not verified)

    I have a traumatic brain injury.

    That being said, I got caught in the cross-fire in the Firefly Campaign, since I did not get with the program - i.e. Firemoon was abused by a sexual predator, who for the sake of the community had to be removed. I was shocked at how this mantra was repeated over and over everywhere it could be. I was shocked at how the Firefly folks did not identify themselves as they sought to achieve their goals. It left a poor taste about Firefly in my mouth since I started to regard them as "cultish", incapable of independent thought or discussion. Also it disturbed me how the Firefly folks who had nothing to do with DC, carried water in the campaign as well.

    Since I had lot of free time, I researched the consistent posters and everything I could find, and an disturbing picture arose. The one you described of a one-sided campaign to achieve a stated end, without proper identification or perspective.

    As for the brain injury - I got raked over the coals for making light of the issue from an avowed healer, who thought my injury was a ruse. That scared me into thinking that perhaps my impression of the "cultishness" of the Firefly group was true. (I know cult is a loaded word, but I cannot think of the word that would indicate a group of people, emotionally inflamed with one mission in mind, and not allowing any dissent.)

    2 years 1 week ago
  • Kali Firemoon (not verified)

    Katrina,

    I am so sorry that we have not met yet since it so obvious from your comments that you are a close personal friend of Iris’s and know all there is to know about the situation from a front row seat. I mean, after all, one who has seen a woman four months pregnant, losing weight and physically appearing to not be pregnant would of course understand the emotional, and yes, physical stress she was under. But of course, since you were there I don’t need to remind you of that. So lets move on to the rest of the story, you know where her husband chose to have unprotected sex with someone else, who I am sure was a complete virgin and posed no risk to mother or child, and then husband went home to engage in carnal activities with his wife, confident that his unborn child was never at risk. Yes, I am sure that all of your female students understand why you are firmly in the husband’s court. After all, it’s always the woman’s fault when marriages go bad. Or at least that is what I seem to glean from your article. Yes, I am Firefly, and I was one of the one’s chosen to help this woman after she was victimized by this predator who seems to have persuaded the pagan community that it is acceptable to treat not one, not two but at last count four woman as though they were simply a means to his end. And BTW I know she attempted to alert the community to her situation and apparently no one felt it worth even a cursory investigation. Oh yes, one more example of us not wanting to rock any one’s boat. I will tell you that in response to her story, several other pagan women have come forward with similar stories of abuse reported to the male members of a community met with similar disdain and an obvious desire to hide this type of behavior. Do I believe it happened this time, yes; do I believe that this community is willing, no matter the cost, to hide this type of behavior, yes. No one wants to call attention to the pagan community because we already have an undeserved stigma. But that does not mean we should allow behavior none of us condone simply because we are afraid of controversy. If one of us needs be sanctioned, then we either stand and sanction or accept the stigma so many would place upon us. We need to “police” our own. When four and probably five women come forth and tell the same story of predatory behavior against women we either act or fold the tents and go home. So I suggest you talk to all of them before you post any more pontifications. I also realize you can never post this but we both know you will have read it.

    2 years 1 week ago
  • Cara Schulz (not verified)

    Hello Katrina,
    Although we know one another, mostly online but also when we met at Sacred Harvest Festival, for your readers let me note that I'm the Managing Editor of PNC-News and the Co-Editor of PNC-Minnesota. I was the primary author of the PNC-News statement that you are writing about.

    The persons who contacted me asking when PNC would cover this were not Firefly members. Most were not local to DC, but were Pagans and polytheists in other parts of the country who had donated to the Pagan community center in DC and naturally had an interest in it. Why would they contact me? Because I'm the Managing Editor and people often contact me to ask if PNC is covering a story or to request that we cover a story. That's how we get many of our articles - through our readers.

    As for why PNC-News put two different situations in one statement, it's because they are related in nature and both needed to be addressed promptly.

    If anyone has any questions, we encourage them to contact us and ask them.

    2 years 1 week ago
  • Kat, Emralde (not verified)

    Thank you for this perspective. I very much appreciate the voice of the elders as I struggle with my own (not-voiced) feelings about this situation and its outcome.

    2 years 2 weeks ago