Care IS the Antidote to Violence: A Self-Reflection

Throughout this course, I have been presented with multiple tools and resources which have helped me expand my learnING, knowledge and understandING. Through the semester I learned a great deal about tropical storms and means of violence that I hadn’t known about much before. The conclusion I’m about to make may not come as a surprise, but this course has taught me that care is not the antidote to violence.

As we navigated this course, there were many examples through the tropical storms that rendered my thinking that care will never be the antidote to violence although it may come close to it. During the film, When the Levees Broke, directed by Spike Lee, there were instances such as the whole evacuation process that seemed as though there was no care from the government in helping the citizens who have been affected by such violence. For example, the citizens of Louisiana attempted to cross a bridge to another connecting piece of land where they’d find refuge, safety and more resources to help those who were in desperate need of it (including elders and children). Unfortunately, the bridge was guarded by guards (thinking these people were looters) and if there were an effort to come closer there were threats that they would shoot. This is one of many instances where care was disregarded in the name of violence. I’m realizing that as I write my essay, I am currently contradicting the point I’m trying to make and perhaps I should be arguing that care is the antidote to violence. I realize this because it’s critical that those people receive the care they needed and wanted. Had they gotten the rightful attention they deserved they wouldn’t have been so furious with the situation and therefore care would’ve been the antidote to the violence of the storm they had just encountered.

            Through this course, I was challenged by the intricate readings that our course had presented and found myself drowning within the language that was being used. I am the type of person who needs things to be straight-forward and to the point. I found myself questioning a lot of the time but being too fearful to ask questions since my biggest fear is the fear of judgement. Phobias are defined as “uncontrollable, irrational and lasting fear”, but if we focus on the “uncontrollable” portion, you may even say that my phobia presented itself as a form of violence (uncontrollable disaster) in which only I carry the antidote. The antidote for overcoming this was focusing every ounce of my attention to every class discussion and ensuring that I was absolutely certain I knew what was being discussed. The antidote included a mixture of listening, cross-checking resources, and references, reading along, and an insane amount of focus.

            As I continue cross-checking and rereading the prompt to ensure I’m on the right track when it comes to writing this essay, I came back to the prompt for this essay and found a quote by Mariame Kaba. Kaba states, “They connect people in a heartfelt, direct way that teaches specific lessons about the brutality of prisons. And this can change minds and hearts, helping people to (hopefully) develop more radical politics.” I found this quote particularly interesting because it seems to summarize the idea that care, quite literally, can be the antidote to many who are suffering. Not just suffering from natural disasters, home-life issues, self-inflicted issues, but even those who have found themselves wound up in jail. Is there such a reason we shouldn’t think about a proper care plan for the treatment they are going through? Or should we simply leave it as ‘what will be, will be’. Through learning in this course as well as reflecting in our Care for Accountability; I found extreme importance on self-accountability. Had I not taken the steps to improve as a person and excel in this self-graded course, I wouldn’t have honestly given myself a deserving grade. Those in prison, although undergoing harsh treatment, should be given proper health treatments, perhaps therapy, so they can also reflect on their own actions that have brought them to the place where they are currently residing.

            Shifting my attention to one of our many course concepts, memory and forgetting. I find that as I’m reading the prompt essay, Ward rejogs my memory of a very heart wrenching scene at the end of When the Levees Broke. The scene depicts a mother who has attempted to describe the feeling of losing her daughter in the midst of such an act of violence known as Hurricane Katrina. Watching Kimberly watch the small coffin that carried her child to her final resting place was truly devastating and as terrible as it ever could be for a mother to bury her child, she did so with an act of care. Ward states, “Burying her daughter was a violence that she had to inflict on herself” and I can’t help but agree with her point of view. As Kimberly buries her daughter, she also simultaneously performs an act of care and love towards her child. This violence may not be forgiven, but Kimberly can rest at peace knowing her daughter is in a safer world up above. Speaking of the world up above, I found myself at a funeral to honor the life of my boyfriend’s grandmother, and seeing the body in the open casket was not an experience I was expecting. I hadn’t anticipated the grief, and I sure can’t imagine what it must’ve been like for the children of that mother to bury her, let alone Kimberly burying her own child.

            I can say however with great pride that my thinkING and comprehendING has greatly strengthened throughout this course. I didn’t trust myself (another inflicted act of violence) to feel confident enough in my English knowledge, comprehension and understanding to be able to get to the end of the semester. Through this course I’ve watched people tell their experiences of living through Hurricane Katrina; I’ve read about the people and seen the statistics and couldn’t help but wonder to myself, “if they can persevere, why can’t I?”. It was here that I injected myself with the antidote against my own inflicted form of violence and mustered up the confidence to feel good about my contributions to the class, to group discussions, and even feeling good about the essays I write. Had I continued putting myself down and saying that I’d never achieve greatness, then I’d be fighting violence with violence which wouldn’t have worked out for me as a person at the end of the day.

            I can truly claim that through writing this final essay, I stand firm from my original point stated in the beginning of the essay. I said, “care will never be the antidote to violence although it may come close to it”. I suppose my thinking was the sole fact that no matter how much help, kindness and care may take place, it can never undo the acts of violence that many people have faced. While some seem to cope with care as the antidote of violence, that doesn’t apply to everybody and that’s where “it may come close to it” came into play. Since writing this essay, you can see my perspective change during my writing and I do firmly believe that if you accept care as the antidote of violence, it will help you navigate the hardships that trouble you. Care truly is the antidote to violence.

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