Lately I've been thinking about friendship a lot. Who friends whom, who stays lifelong friends, how this whole FRIENDSHIP thing works.
Is it a coincidence that oftentimes the most genuine and kind-hearted people are drawn to the equally magnificent sort? Is it meant to be? Written in the cosmos a priori and there's no avoiding it? Or... is there something less metaphysical about the whole thing?
I predict it's all in our hands. Considering how many awful people I have befriended in my past, I guess that says something. Although, most of these awful people were weeded out. Not by me! God, no, I would rather live on Tums tablets for a year than face conflict! Time and events just kind of... did the job for me.
It's still on my mind, however, "How was I so fortunate as to attract the wonderful people into my life that I have?"
It wasn't about luck or chance, it was about being the people we each needed to have in our lives.
Most of my friends are absolute saints! Their patience, love, and empathy never ceases to amaze me! There are also specific types of causes I/we like to help with. Two of the most common causes within my friends are animals and mentally ill people. Obviously, if you go to events and things that associate with these causes, these are the people you come across, but I find myself attracted to this type outside of predictable situations as well.
Why animals, though? Why the mentally ill? Maybe, and this is a big maybe, but maybe what we all relate to are... those two groups.
For example, I remember what school was like. People will turn you into "just an animal". The way they would feel fine harming an innocent animal is just how they would treat me, and it's the same way these Saints were treated. The bullies would close you into a box; the one they've created for you in their mind, and they would beat you. They would no longer see you as a living thing, but as a way of venting hurt and anger and pressure and stress and everything that made them feel bad. It would give them such power and make them feel so much better about themselves. Day after day they would do this, recharge themselves, and go home telling themselves, "At least it wasn't me."
The Saint, however? Day after day, they would be humiliated and hurt, take a deep breath, and go home asking themselves, "Why was it me? I am powerless."
Animals and the mentally ill are two of the most powerless demographics in society. Along with the homeless, the elderly, and children. No matter your race, heritage, or class, if you fall into one of these categories, you are immediately labeled as weak and helpless. You are immediately a target for the masses and can easily be overtaken and taken advantage of. The bullies will corner you, they will take any sense of joy from you, and they will leave you for dead. Each time it gets easier for them. Only a handful of Saints will have someone there to defend them. The rest will have to defend themselves... or fall.
From these damaged goods, Saints arise. Not always, of course, but there are those special individuals whose decency and courage cannot be shattered. When these Saints stand back up, push their way through the carnage, and allow themselves to be reborn, they become the ones this world needs. There is an incredible amount of power and beauty within these individuals. They may never be aware of it, but they are the ones we all owe credit to. The ones who won't stand around and watch others be bullied, who will be there for others when they need someone to listen or help or just sit next to.
Not everyone is able to appreciate the Saints, of course. They are an unusual breed. They usually look like everyone else, but their insides are more dented and bruised. Their hearts have more bandages and stitches. Sometimes they are loners or introverts or just shy. Sometimes these people put on a hard exterior to keep away the bad guys, and the good guys. Other times, they welcome anyone who will take them and love them; accepting the risk of being hurt again. And sometimes they never fully recover, they go through life playing the past over and over again in their head, trying to escape the memories and pain, but they cannot. These memories are scarring and will FOREVER affect the Saint.
Then these Saints find one another. Slowly.
It could be at any restaurant.
They sit down at parallel tables and both order the tofu salad. These Saints are tired of seeing companies slashing open animal's necks and telling us, "They were born for this purpose".... Just like the Saint was born a freak and her purpose is to be harassed. How kids will be kids, and therefore it's okay if some of them are hurting and teasing the weird kid. How New York City is a rough city and you'll "always" meet those people who will mistreat you and touch you inappropriately and treat you like.... like... like a slab of meat. Like chopped liver. Like a cow on a farm having her calf taken away and then shoved onto a milking machine so someone else... some other, stronger individual can enjoy the taste of her milk.
It could be in the psychiatric ward of a hospital.
The Saints enter, curious, wanting to volunteer and help out a little. They enter the guarded gate and looks into the sad, bullet hole eyes of patient after patient. Each one with stories of prison, abuse, rape, racism, cruelty... and no one to listens, because these people cannot be helped. They were born to be weak and society will treat them this way. If they don't speak up, they are stupid. If they do speak up, they are crazy and need more medication. These are not people, these are defective puppies at the puppy mill. These are nerdy kids who need to learn to suck it up. These are the ignored individuals of the world; they must remain silent. We all must remain silent or be classified as one of them.
The Saints won't be fooled, though. The Saints cannot be shut up or shutdown. They will always do the right thing. They will be mocked and hated and society will try to cast them off as "mentally ill", "animals", and "freaks".
Perhaps that's not so bad.