Saturday, October 15, 2011

Risk vs. Benefit

I'm considering writing an additional blog addressing my work stories.  After all, there is hilarity and pathos in the fire service for certain.  I shared what I had written with Bulldog and he responded that he thought I was giving too much information out.  I really don't care about the potential lack of anonymity, but privacy is exceedingly important to him.  Which brought me to today's topic-honoring everyone's needs.

What do you do if your need for privacy or space conflicts with that of your transgender family member?  Well, it would depend on which of you needed more privacy.  For example, if you, the family member, wanted to carry the torch of acceptance and potentially "out" your family member more than they care to be outed, then perhaps your "need" for torch carrying should take a backseat to your family member's need for privacy.  Because, after all, her need for privacy, and non-outing, trumps your need for torch carrying, most would agree.  But what if it's the other way around?  What if the transgender family member wants to be more public?

I guess, being strictly objective here, it would depend on why.  There are people in the world, we can probably all agree, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, color, you name it, who like to stir the pot just because they can.  Some of those folks may have aspects of their lives that make it easy to do so because so many people in this world are so blessed touchy, myself included.  So, if your transgender family member is just wanting to create drama for drama's sake, then reason would state that the need for drama does not outweigh the need for privacy.  But, and this is more likely and realistic, and probably more common too, if the transgender family member wants to be more public in order to further a worthy cause, then the person needing privacy might have to relent, or compromise.

You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to.  We all have different ideas of how we should live our lives and sometimes those ideas crash into each other, especially when those of us with differing ideas share living space.  For instance, DJ pushes Bulldog and me constantly on this.  Yet, she is one of the least dramatic people I know, other than her aunt who resides in England, a remarkable woman in her own right who deserves an entire blog entry all by herself.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that DJ is the antithesis of the Drama Queen, which just lends even more credibility to her justifications of why she wants to be as "out" as she possibly can.  She's a firm believer that she has a responsibility to others who constitute the non-accepted populace.  She truly thinks that the path to acceptance is repeated exposure to the folks that society has kept under wraps.

Bulldog, who has foresight that I still cannot comprehend after 13 years of knowing and loving him, does not care for DJ to be so public.  In his defense, he is not worried about cowardly things like, "What will people think of me?"  He is, as always, worried about DJ's safety.  And in typical non-commital fashion, because I hate making anyone disapprove of me, I can see both sides.  How do you let one person pursue their dreams and let her live her life in a manner that seems moral to her without compromising someone else's need for privacy and security and safety?

Did I ever mention that Bulldog was part of a search and rescue group?  For his sake, I won't get into specifics, but their job was to respond to building collapses and search for survivors.  I hearken to this example a lot with Bulldog because it's one he understands, which is kind of like exploiting a crack in his armor, which he occasionally resents.  Nonetheless, before rescue personnel enter a collapsed building, they do a bit of research, if you will.  They determine how sound the building is, what can be done to make it sound enough to send rescuers in without turning them into victims, as well.  It's the classic risk vs. benefit scenario.  If the risk is so high that the likelihood of benefit is exceedingly slim, then we don't chance it until we can even out the odds somewhat.  Even then, there is still a risk of turning into a victim on trying to find victims, because nothing is ever 100% certain.

Now, in DJ's world, nobody dies, violence happens only to people unknown to her, and butterflies fill the air sprinkling glitter and good will all over the earth.  How do you educate a person like that about the hazards of a roof falling in on you while you attempt to teach the world about acceptance?  I'm not sure it can be done because in addition to having that outlook, she is a teenager, which just fortifies that outlook because everyone knows teenagers think they're going to live forever; nothing bad ever happens to them, except car wrecks. bullying, harassment, drug overdose, pregnancy, disease, and other maladies that only those of us who survived the teenage years can or will recognize.  So, if we can't change her (or the conditions of the collapsed building) then what can we do?  Well, we can provide her with lots of support (or shoring, in the case of the collapsed building).   That way, if something goes terribly wrong while she, or the rescuers, are engaging in worthwhile risk-taking, we have a means of still making sure that either she (they) have a means of getting out of trouble, or we'll have a means of getting to her ( them ) in time before something grave happens to her (or them).  It's still mighty uncomfortable to those of us who worry about DJ, or the rescuers, for that matter.  But to do anything more, or less, would only lessen our loved one and her (or the rescuers) efforts.  And that disrupts that whole balance, equilibrium, yin-yang, thing that really is the best solution for almost everyone and everything.  It's so damn hard, this compromise thing, but until someone comes up with something better, it's the only thing that works with the human species.  It requires constant introspection, thought and deliberation, which many of us resist heartily.  It's easier to just go with what we want and disregard the desires of those around us because then we don't have to think at all.  But our Creator, or natural selection, or the aliens, somebody or something, caused the frontal lobes in the human brain to develop in a way to which no other species on the face of, or under the seas of, this planet can lay claim.  It's how we came to be at the top of the food chain, unless we ignore our frontal lobes and, say, go wading in the ocean at dusk, while bleeding.  Well, then you're just asking for trouble and you'll have to face the sharks on their turf.

We have to separate our animalistic "fight or flight" urges and think our way through these challenges.  Goodness knows our brains are much better at analyzing risk vs. benefit scenarios than our feelings are, because, after all, compromise is a thought, not a feeling.