Safety and self-censureship



I hear a lot about ‘safety’ these days. It is ‘safe’ to be oneself around certain people, and ‘not safe’ to be around others. There are environments where one is able to be completely open and free- to agree or disagree without the fear of being frozen out or excommunicated from life. And then there are the invisible elephants in the room- the ‘unsafe’ topics that are tiptoed around. What makes a place or topic ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ is unique to a given situation, person, or relationship. What is safe for one person may be very dangerous for another. Hence the all-too-hasty retreat into sanctuaries of silence, where systematic self-censure trims away any thoughts and ideas judged to be too threatening to the other. I am learning that I must carefully guard my heart and not reveal too much- as what lies within it can easily be twisted and thrown back at me in a form so mangled that it is unrecognizable. I am learning that some conversations will be forever banned, and that I must die to some very critical aspects of my identity. And I am learning that some deaths are expected to occur with a polite and quiet efficiency. Safety for others requires self-censureship. It makes things so much easier for everyone else, and that is really the only thing that matters. Perhaps if I repeat it to myself enough times, I will believe it, and the pain of the dying process will gradually fade to nothing.

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