CN: For medical details, descriptions of pain,
As early ago as two years back, I’d never heard the term “Social Justice Warrior.” The first I heard of it was from a friend. He made those “Pesky SJWs” out to be horrible things, worse than Klingons out for revenge. I didn’t really understand it, and so had no opinion on the matter. But given that I am a non christian liberal and he’s a conservative christian, I felt there might be more to it than meets the eye.
But, well… Too much life happening, and no spoons to research it. And besides, it doesn’t matter. I don’t need someone out there telling me what to do and how to do it. I’m an adult, right? Even when I don’t feel much like adulting.
Time passed. He kept mentioning them, and then the term started showing on social media. Like politics, it just seemed one of those things my mind couldn’t make sense of. Live and let live. Move along. Nothing to see here. And I thought nothing of it for the longest time thereafter.
Life got worse.
New diagnostics crept into my life.
My Facebook posts got more and more depressive, as I struggled to keep afloat and learn to live life with a whole new set of obstacles that I wasn’t prepared for. Again, SJWs never even crossed my mind, except for a few scathing comments from pretty much everyone.
Friends. Coworkers. Family. Strangers on the bus. They all had their views on the matter.
SJW’s are evil.
They just want to set themselves up to be in power and use that power to oppress others.
They’re like feminists, only worse.
They have no redeeming qualities.
They’re like Black Lives Matter, only worse. (Replace BLM with any other oppressed group, really)
Oh those kinda people? Yeah, they’re a pain in the rear.
I can’t say I believed any of this, but not knowing any of them… Well… I just kept my mouth shut on the subject. Because I knew if I talked, I’d just end up looking uneducated. Because despite everyone talking about “What they’re like” and all… I still had no idea WHAT a Social Justice Warrior was. And it looked like it was going to stay that way.
Life kept giving me the usual roller coaster days, and then I got a text from a friend. “I noticed that a lot of people aren’t very supportive of you and what you’re going through. I have a friend in Ottawa I’d like to introduce you to, because I think you’d get along, and you could use a supportive person.” Well. OK then. Introductions happened, and that’s when I met Ania.
At the time, I never associated her with being a Social Justice Warrior. I’d resigned myself to knowing that I’d never meet one, and never understand them. From my glimpse into their world, it was more complicated than politics, and not worth the spoons.
To me, Ania was just “Good People.” She cared. She offered likes on posts that everyone ignored. She made me feel less alone. At some point, a face to face meeting happened, and I saw her as cute and adorable, and queer, and just all around friendly. I envied her optimism. Her ability to stay positive. Her outlook on life. And I appreciated the low effort hanging out sessions, with me spending hours looking at a turtle tank and imagining myself to be swimming along in synch. (Ah how disappointed I was when it was bedtime and her partner took away the “turtle sun”, more popularly known as lamp over a fishtank.)
Home the next day, none the wiser. I continued on my merry way, my brain safe in the knowledge that I didn’t have to worry about SJW’s. They just weren’t something in my world. Even as I read more and more of her writings, and we hung out together more times, it didn’t really click to me. The association between “Good people Ania” and “Social Justice Warrior” never came up.
By the time my brain processed the connection between the two, which I think happened after either her or someone else (I forget) referred to her as an SJW. Then I went “Aaaah!” in understanding, but still… it made little difference to me, to my life.
After all, I don’t need a Social Justice Warrior. I was just happy for the friendship, and someone I could take to on the bad days when no-one else wanted to listen.
To me, that’s where it ended. A SJW was a friendly person who was willing to listen, and offer advice on the bad days. And for me, that truth was enough.
There are two distinct incidents that made me realize that reality wasn’t quite as clear-cut as I’d envisioned. The first was a series of nights at the ER for me when my IBS flared up worse than it had ever been. Even at it’s worst, when I had to be put on Librax 4 times a day to be able to walk, when I described my pain as “A combination of constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, ovulation cramps, PMS cramps, birthing contractions, the stomach being used as a punching bag, and also as target practice for random knives, screwdrivers, and other pointy things, and this just begins to describe the pain I’m in.”
This pain was new, and had all of the above, and yet was worse. The sharp pains were sharper. The dull thuds were thuddier. The contortions of my bowels went from amateur rec nights to Cirque du Soleil in all their writhing glory. And my care…. Well, that was the same as always. Non-existent.
Here I was in the ER, having taken more meds than I want to admit to, trying every combination in the book, and adding to that dilaudid through an IV, and still it wasn’t helping. Then again, the doctors telling me to stop exaggerating wasn’t helping much either.
Despairing, seeking solace, I texted Ania throughout these hospital visits. I sought comfort, and a friendly ear. I got more than I bargained for, as this little sprite storms into the hospital, stomping her way into my room as she told off the doctors and nurses, and came to my rescue.
I’ll tell you this much. When I pictures a knight in shining armor, I didn’t picture them to be shorter than me, cute as a button, topped with spiky multicolored hair, and a soft voice that wasn’t scared to go from squeak to squawk at the whole medical system.
Her support and assistance during that horrible period brought tears to my eyes, and even now, months later, my tear ducts are acting up. And as much as I haven’t had time to clean my room lately, I can’t blame this on the dust bunnies. (Besides, I have a cleaning lady come help me every 2 weeks, so it’s more like cat fur from my two beautifl long-haired fur-babies who are growing their new winter coat. Aaah-choo!)
Black cats are awesome, by the way.
But this whole episode with my IBS, the support, the care, the triumphant knight rising in glory over the mortal bodies of medical personnel slain by her logic, knowledge, and ferocity… That incident gave me my first real insight as to what a Social Justice Warrior actually was.
It wasn’t necessarily someone out there pushing their agenda on others. It was someone willing to be there, to be a friend, to offer support, to listen, to HEAR, and to speak up for you when you no longer have a voice of your own, whether because of fear, despair, pain, or simply not knowing what you can do to help yourself.
And now I have to wipe my eyes again.
I tried to express to people how I finally understood the purpose of SJW’s. But I didn’t really know how to put my thoughts, my FEELINGS, into words. Because that is what Ania provided me. Feelings. Not thoughts. And while I was willing to accept that there are those out there fighting the fight with their own agendas, I could proudly say that I knew one person who was a “Pesky Social Justice Warrior”, and I was very very grateful for her “Pain in the rear” behavior. I’m sure the medical teams wanted to swat her out of the way, but she stood her ground, a literal human shield in front of me, defending me, fighting for me, making sure I got what I needed.
Now THAT is the picture of a Social Justice Warrior that I wish was floating around out there. Because it was, and is, a truly beautiful sight to see. And it is an image that I like to carry in my mind. (I hope that I am forgiven if sometimes my mind pictures this short cute adorable warrior princess right there in front of me, shouting at the world to grow up and be decent, while flapping her hands and somehow waving the sword with her tongue. Look. My imagination is vivid, okay? And a prehensile tongue can be so convenient, especially if you’re perverted like me.)
Perhaps I’m just trying to insert a bit of humor and levity into a subject that is very emotional for me. But really, it makes me smile in fondness to remember her fierce demeanor, so contradictory to her friendly cheerful cherubim appearance.
So… Where was I? Oh, yes. I’d finally discovered what a true SJW was, and did. How they helped people. I was EDUMACATED! I felt pride at my newfound understanding, along with a great deal of gratitude. I thought, like so many others have before me, that I knew it all, understood it all. But there was another facet to the whole SJW debate that I hadn’t considered. And I was about to come face to face with it.
The IBS flare was dying down, and life stressors were blazing full speed ahead. And I found myself in a situation I couldn’t handle on my own. And I didn’t know where to turn. So I fell back to my default behavior of “Complaining on Facebook.” As I finished my post by tagging a bunch of people, hoping someone might have an idea. And of course, I tagged Ania. I knew she couldn’t help in that particular situation, but still, it brought me comfort to know she would see the post, and read it. I wasn’t so alone then. At least one person would read it and care.
What I did NOT expect was to encounter another facet of Social Justice Warrior-ism. Namely: The Network.
It was unplanned. I didn’t seek it out. But it found me. Someone I didn’t know, who was friends with Ania, saw the post on her wall, and sent me a text message offering assistance. I was gobsmacked!
“Let me get this straight. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I’m going through. You have no interest in my life. And yet you are still offering to put in countless hours of work and effort to try to help me with this insane brick-a-bras that I’m faced with? Wow. Just wow. And are you on anything? Can I have some of that?”
It seriously blew me away. This person I didn’t know spent countless hours working to decipher 64 pages of jumbled medical receipts, so that I could get my taxes done, so that I could apply for medical coverage, so that I could afford my medication, and could do other things that I desperately needed. (Not to mention I really needed to do my taxes. And this morning, I just got all my Notice of Assessment from CRA for the tax years of 2007-2016. Thanks Micha!)
The offer of help, the enthusiasm shown to me by someone who had their own issues, and yet were willing to spend valuable resources (spoons!) on helping a complete stranger… it just blew me away that someone would be willing to do that for me.
I cried. Tears of despair for my situation. Tears of joy now that it’s all over. Tears of gratitude, and thanks, and overwhelming emotions at the help that was being given to me. Tears of awe as I realized another purpose of Social Justice Warriors. The Network.
It is, I believe, an under valuated part of the picture that I wonder if people even realize it is there, and exists. Let me tell you, clear as day.
When you become friends with a social justice warrior, you gain access to their network of like-minded folks. If they are Good people SJWs, like Ania, they will likely have a lot of people on their social media as friends, some like me who just got nudged her way because “you could use the support.” I never expected it, and never considered it’s existence before that moment. But that day, a total stranger shows me the truth.
I wasn’t alone. I may still feel alone, but so do many other people. The sick. The elderly. The disabled. The people who care for them. The people who don’t know where else to turn. One by one, they will flock to the “Good People” Social Justice Warriors, and band together in a community.
And without my knowledge, I had been made a member of that community. And when I needed help, someone saw, and for no reward whatsoever, came to my aid. Because like me, they knew what it feels like to be lost in despair. To have no-where to go. No-where to turn to. To not have the resources, skills, or abilities to do what is required for survival. And these people, this network, this COMMUNITY… They care. They care about what is right. And when everything is wrong, some of them will step up and offer a helping hand to someone who needs it. Because they have been there, and they know what it’s like to be an empty shell.
The day after Micha offered me help, which even now I’m scared to ask how many hours she put in to help me, I was on my way to counseling, and I thought of making this blog post. I knew the title I wanted. “Who needs Social Justice Warriors Anyway?”
As I approached the university on my way to therapy, I saw a man on a bike, pulling a triangle-shaped buggy behind him. (Maybe it was used as a shopping cart, or simply a bike seat for kids.) Hung on the back of it was a sign with the following words:
“The power of the people is greater than the people in power.”
I saw this. I read it. And I remembered how a stranger offered me help the night before, for no reason other than the goodness of her heart, and having seen me tag a SJW friend looking for a compassionate ear. I thought of my knight in shining armor friend who fought for me to ensure that I received the medical care that I needed. And I thought about this whole community of resources that was there for me, when I’d never known about it.
I didn’t stop crying until I reached my destination, simply overwhelmed with gratitude at this other dimension to the SJW universe that had opened its doors to me. The community.
To anyone who asks the question, I understand your confusion. I was there. And I am here to tell you the answer.
“Who needs those Social Justice Warriors Anyhow?”,
So do the sick. The disabled. Anyone who has ever needed a friend. Anyone who faced a problem they are ill equipped for. Anyone who is overwhelmed by their current circumstances. Anyone who has ever felt pain, and have had their voices taken from them. Anyone who wants to survive, and has forgotten that it is possible to do so. Anyone who is Good People. Anyone who has ever needed Good People in their life.
Because when you find an SJW friend, you don’t just find one friend. You find a village of like-minded people who will be there to help complete strangers, because they know that the help is needed, and that there aren’t many who will offer it. And whether you need help with math homework, someone to try to explain to you the meaning of existence, or even need a shoulder to cry on in an unrelenting world of chaos and carelessness…
In the arms of a Good Person Social Justice Warrior you will find comfort, caring, companionship, and the resources of astrophysicists, rocket scientists, genealogists, doctors, plumbers, and pretty much people of any profession.
Because in their arms, you will find yourself surrounded in a group hug encompassing a village worth of people of all shapes and sizes, and all professions. And here, you will find a friend. And you will learn that no matter how hard it is, you don’t always have to do it alone.
Because your SJW friend will be there for you, with an army at their back.
And that kind of support… I am not ashamed to admit that I need it.
And if you’ve read this far, then so do you. And I hope you find your home in this community, the way I have.
And if anyone ever asks, I will proudly say that yes, I need Social Justice Warriors in my life. We all do. Because they are the battle cry that men will flock to in times of war, bringing hope that perhaps humanity isn’t doomed after all.