Confession #102: I Take the Broader View

Last week was rough. The big thunderstorm that rolled through town on Tuesday was excitement enough, what with trees and branches downed everywhere and power out for as much as a couple days for some folks. But then Wednesday night the epidemic of police violence against Black citizens hit close to home.

Less than five miles from my home, on a stretch of road I've driven countless times myself, a Black couple and child were pulled over nominally due to a broken taillight. The man, whose name was Philando Castile, did not leave the scene alive.

Aside from this particular tragedy happening in my neck of the woods, Philando's death affected one of my micro-communities directly. You see Philando—or "Mr. Phil," as he was known to the kids—worked at my daughters' school.

So why am I bringing it up here, of all places? There are several reasons. First and foremost, it's what's been on my mind. And though I don't get a lot of traffic on the blog, especially since I changed my weekly posting schedule, this is where I have the largest platform. As a white person—a white American, specifically—I feel like I have to stop hiding behind my desire not to invite conflict (good God, I hate facing personal conflict) and speak up when and where I can.

But it's not entirely unrelated to Doctor Who, either. Because when it is at its best, the Doctor (and the show in general) makes us challenge our usual perceptions.

I first noticed this kind of challenge right off the bat. You may recall that I started watching the show with Nine and Rose in Series One. I was only a couple episodes in when The Unquiet Dead rolled around, and we ran up against the Gelth, who wanted to use dead human bodies as vehicles. Rose, of course, was appalled at the idea; it would desecrate the dead.

The Doctor, on the other hand, wonders what the big deal is. The original owner (so to speak) has vacated the premises; why shouldn't someone else make use of it? This was the first moment I really saw the Doctor as alien. Not only was it good storytelling, it set the tone for the whole show for me, pointing out how each of us has certain ingrained assumptions about how the world does or should work.

Opening myself to the possibility that there are other ways to look at the world, that what I think of as truth is not necessarily truth for another, has made me appreciate the world more. Sure, it can hurt more too—especially for someone like me who comes from a background such that my gender is just about the only thing that puts me at an automatic disadvantage—but it's important not to turn a blind eye to others' suffering.

That's one of the things I've always admired most about the Doctor, in any incarnation. He ends up allying himself with some of the most marginalized people in the universe during his travels (not always, but often), and uses his not inconsiderable influence to raise a ruckus. Things don't always go well, either for the Doctor or for those he tries to help (and Prime knows he tends to leave a huge mess behind for his erstwhile associates to clean up by themselves), but at the very least he makes others think.

So I've been trying to take the broader view, as well. When an entire community tells the rest of us that they regularly experience injustice, it's our job to listen to their words and their pain, to believe what they say, to amplify their voices, and to use whatever influence we have to help pressure those in power to enact real change.

It's what the Doctor would do.


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