Breaking Taboos in Reality

I recently saw an extended fan trailer for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War film:

It’s actually does a pretty good job of highlighting how the Civil War storyline isn’t just something being plucked out of thin air for the sake of fanboy nerdgasms but rather taps into a consistent thread of development for the main protagonists. Also, it had me welling up, which I think is another example of how my emotional processing is maybe a little fucked up on occasion.

One line in particular that struck me was a quote from Tony Stark:

“I saw that I had become part of a system that is comfortable with zero accountability.”

I listen to that line and watch the cinematic brilliance of horrible yet weirdly impersonal destruction being waged on CGI cities, you know, with everything zoomed out enough that you don’t see individual people suffering. I watched this and I thought of a discussion held at Eurix, about breaking down the taboo of talking about accidents.

I’ll save my opinion of that particular discussion for face-to-face conversations, but what I will say is that the one thing that I really took home from it was this; taboos are really, really fucking hard to break down. And on occasions such as this, they can be extremely damaging both for individuals and the community as a whole.

I’m lucky in that I’ve experienced relatively few accidents and these have been pretty minor. Note I use the word “lucky” and the word “few” these are important, I’m not perfect and I’m pretty sure nobody else is, and I don’t think it’s simply a matter of experience and skill. Accidents happen; it’s how we respond to them that makes all the difference.

“You start with something pure, something exciting. Then come the mistakes, the compromises.”

And on that front I realise that I’m part of the problem too; because I may have hurt people and not know it, because we’ve created a culture in which it’s hard to tell somebody that they did something, even accidentally, that harmed you. I know because I’ve done it; I’ve been tied in ways that left me with nerve pain in my arms and shoulders and I said nothing. Why? Because it was minor; because I didn’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings; because I felt responsible for thinking they were somehow telepathic and I didn’t want what we were doing to suddenly stop.

If you want any more evidence of how difficult it is to break down these taboos, have a look over this blog post; the vague platitudes, the blurry acknowledgements of personal guilt without getting into specifics, the implication that it’s a little bit me, but mostly everyone else. That’s the problem.