The Other Side of the Table
That moment a child shares with you a story that can only break your heart because the hurt is palpable in their tale from the other side of the table.
The lunchroom table – Where alliances are formed and friends betrayed.
A place where cowards brandish swords of razor-sharp tongues that cut to the quick, for the soul purpose of watching you bleed. A place where the smug and noxious gain satisfaction with a flick of their wrist, as they draw an imaginary line down the middle of the table, putting asunder those who don’t quite fit in.
They don’t fit in with a craven crowd who stare and snicker from the supposed coveted side of the place one goes for nourishment, but instead are deprived the fruit of kindness.
There may be some sitting in close proximity to this infamous locale, who have overheard and see, and may secretly want to rid the platform of the manifest ravine seen in the unbearable light of a hidden code, put forth by malevolent minds who only know how to divide and ‘other’.
Some may even feel the pull to rise and stand with those whose stomachs feel inside out from the constant sting of being othered. But alas they do not, for fear of tapered tongues that will pierce through any who challenge the code of othering.
Oh to put wisdom inside the soul of those and others whose fate is to sit on the other side.
If only they could see how being who they are is far better than trying to be a part of a collective mind, whose body and spirit only know how to slice and wound - and who have missed the boat that carries compassion and lessons containing simple kindness’ that when given, can sustain and carry us through the already arduous survival of a school day.
And woe to the soul who begins to become the very thing that has wounded them in an effort to fit it. Here in lies the real tragedy - the perpetuation of othering. The danger of becoming like those who hurt because we fear our own otherness, so we cast shadows on the unsuspecting whose only crime is to show up and exist at the table.
What to do at this particular moment…?
I wonder where my seat is at the table . I travel back in time. I try to remember...
Did I allow myself to be othered by those? Or was I one of those who othered? Or did I do both depending on the moment, depending on the threat or fear?
Can I influence the hidden code now, dominated by raw animal instinct that dictates our fight or flight to or from the good, bad and ugly side of our human nature?
How do I share my own story, so I can help the one who lives in the belly of the beast now? Can I unify with my story, heal with my story, stand in solidarity with my story, forgive and be forgiven for my story, all while holding this child with his story? How do I teach him how to wield his own spiritual sword forged in a fire that gives strength and can burn through any act of othering?
I’ll leave it here then, with questions to ponder as we keep attempting to walk each other home.