How to Deal with Unintentional Tasering

This tricky subject is definitely a work in progress, though I have a few strong theories I’ve been testing.  I am referring to the best way to react after someone close to you, with the very best of intentions and full of love, accidentally tasers you in the genitals.  Intentional tasering is another subject for another day.

Undeniably, this unintended injury hurts like Evangelical hell, but what is the best thing to do when you have recovered the ability to speak, and breathe, and refrain from writhing on the floor in agony?

I’ve had the opportunity to ponder this from time to time during my more than six decades of the occasional tasering virtually all of us experience once in a while.   I am trying to hold myself to a difficult standard of peacefulness in my personal life, a standard I wish was more universal.   I try to live a life of non-harm, what Winston Churchill’s little brown man in the diaper taught the world is called Ahimsa.  

Ahimsa is a strong, principled stance against violence that resists violence without inflicting it.    It has its limits, as far as I can see, I certainly would drop it like a bad habit if somebody was coming to kill me or do me or a loved one bodily harm, but as a general principle of behavior that would vastly improve all life in this world, I can find no fault in it.

Violence comes in many forms, some of them devilishly sneaky.   Being acutely conscious of exactly what hurts me, in its many shades and nuances, I try my best not to do it to people I care about.  In the abstract, I care about all people.  So, since I try not to react truculently to things like an accidental application of electric current to my testicles — if I know the shock was delivered unwittingly — I should also be working on not lashing out angrily at misguided Nazi-admirers, though that will have to be a project for another decade, I think.  Certainly the subject for another essay.

Hard enough in my personal life, not to get up from a tasering and smack somebody hard across the nose, before remembering that the taser was not applied with any ill-will.   The person may not even have realized they were holding a taser.  The first things to do when you are angry, I’ve learned, at a high personal cost, are breathe, wait, and think.  Your head will clear and after some time passes you will have a better idea than your first angry response.   Hard to do, friends, but very important, if you don’t want to live in a shrinking world of constant, eternally justifiable conflict.

I’ll give you an example, if I can, of a subtle form of tasering that may be delivered inadvertently.   Each of us has been sensitized to certain mistreatment by our upbringing.  To some people, silence is a perfectly valid response to a question.   “Hmmmm… you have very much provoked my thoughts, excellent inquiry… wow… let me work this one between my silent lips for a while as I meditate on your provocative line of self-reflection.”   I can picture Shakers, or Quakers, or some silently praying sect, nodding sagely, exchanging small smiles, while they ponder something deep one of them has offered.   On the other hand, there are people, and I am one of them, who have had strategic silence deployed against them, sometimes in a cruel manner, from their earliest memory.   When I ask a friend “what do you think?” and I hear no reply, it has the effect of a hard, accidental knee to the groin.  

This is because my father, a deeply troubled man, lived his personal life with a helmet and flak jacket on, probing with his bayonet whenever he felt cornered, which was often, since he lived in a trench with an opening on only one side.  If I’d ask him for something that was impossible for him to give — like non-judgmental emotional support in a moment of fear, for example — if he couldn’t deflect my question by framing it as another instance of my sniveling emotional neediness (sadly, I began displaying this lifelong trait at a very precocious age) — he would set his jaw and say nothing.   “Dad,” I would ask, at five, or six, before I learned better, “you are seriously not going to say anything?”   Silence and a short thrust of his bayonet would be his only reply.  As a result, I became very sensitive to this kind of silent reply when I ask things of people.  

My father, a highly intelligent man who was able to present his point of view adroitly, always argued that people cannot change on a fundamental level.  I can grant him part of that point — our fundamental natures, our original impulses, are very hard to change.   We are born with certain traits, we emerge from our mother’s womb more or less emotional than others, more or less prone to fear, anger, violence, calmness, happiness, whatever.  Then, of course, how we are nurtured plays a large role in how powerful these impulses remain in us.  Then, ideally, if childhood works out, we become adults with choices, people free to learn crucial skills we realize we lack, work on improving the limitations that increase our suffering and the suffering of those we care about.  

On a fundamental DNA level, sure, one person will still feel a reflex to be angry while another, given the same stimulus, will be reflexively optimistic, or whatever. My father’s argument, if taken to the logical extreme, is ultimately a defense of the wisdom of hopelessness, a proof against our ability to learn and improve ourselves, no matter how miserable we may be in our current stinking foxhole.  We should note that my father changed his view on this, and sincerely regretted he had not examined the view more carefully, hours before he died.

So the question, after being accidentally tasered by someone close to you, comes down to this, as far as I can see: a short series of direct questions to be put simply to ensure against future accidental genital tasering, each hopefully to be answered with a clear “yes.”  [1]

Do you understand why that thing you pressed the trigger of sent an electrical current to some very sensitive nerve endings in my privates?  

Can you relate to a sensitivity in yourself that would react the same way, if I accidentally sent a small charge of electricity there?    

Do you see my “please do not taser” area clearly now?  

Will you kindly promise to refrain from sending another jolt there?  

Outside of that, I see only the potential for more shocks to what my eight year-olds in Harlem sometimes referred to as my privacy.   If what constitutes a taser to the good friend’s privacy is not made clearly understood between both friends, feel free to live your life flinching, ducking, ready to writhe.   It doesn’t seem a viable life strategy to me, though we all have our own opinions on such things, one supposes.  

If somebody cares about you, they should be able to understand your non-angry explanation of why their sincere attempt to help you hurt you so much.  They should then make an effort not to taser you in the same place, ever again.  Kind of a bottom line, I think, in what we should expect from our loved ones in this best of all possible worlds.

 

 

[1]  Practice tip:  if these questions are not asked carefully, with supreme humility, they will result in the opposite of the intended effect, if the person you are seeking peace with is prone to flying off the handle when angered.    Live and learn…

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