As I write this, I'm eating a cupcake, sending a work email, and have an episode of Arrow on in the background. I'm very busy, as you can tell, but I thought I needed to take a break from it all and write this article. This article isn't important just because I'm discussing an integral way of thinking that affects Mental Illness stigma worldwide, but also because I feel betrayed. I grew up with Harry Potter books. I didn't like the movies, but the books were spectacular. It wasn't until years later that I saw the White Supremacy and Patriarchy within them, but even that didn't feel as bad as this.
I wanted to watch the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie opening night, but I was about to board a plane to Africa a few hours later and thought it'd be awesome to watch it there. I didn't end up going to South Africa. Instead, I went to Puerto Rico. I wanted to watch it there, as well, but still wasn't able to. Tonight, I was finally able to.
Since its release, I've been seeing posts about the message J.K. Rowling was sending to the world from the movie. Many assumed that she was saying members of the LGBTQ+ community should be accepted, otherwise disastrous consequences follow. Other viewers found one group, or another, as the intended group, but the end result is the same; treat everyone right, otherwise there will be consequences.
I find this problematic, for a few different reasons. The first, is simple; I do not want you to treat me like a human being because you're worried about the consequences. Simple. You treat me like a human because I deserve to be treated that way, period. If you're confused, then we have a problem. Ultimately, of course, treat me right. How you get there is on you, but it's my decision whether or not I respect you at the end of the day.
The second reason is simple, as well; it is not true! It'd be nice to think that if we stop hurting one another, bad people will cease to exist. That is mostly true, but not for the reasons you suspect. This is why so many have been trying to blame trauma and abuse on Donald Trump. Sure, everything is related, but saying that individuals are bad because of trauma is not true. Trauma plays a role into who we are as individuals. It shapes us, molds us into our beings. But trauma is not the most powerful factor at play. Again, it's easy to say that rapists have also been rape victims. Easy to say abusers, were also abused. And so on, and so forth. But not every abuser has been abused. Your past traumas are in no way guaranteed to shape you into a good or a bad person.
The one thing every abuser has in common, is that they have bought into systems of oppression. They ascribe to White Supremacy, Patriarchy, Ableism, or any of the other systems out there. Every. Single. One. It's only when we accept these systems, that we are able to do harm. So, no, Trauma and/or Mental Illness is not what causes people to be 'bad.' Things like Fantastic Beasts continue to uphold this stigma. The stigma that has harmed and continues to harm survivors of Mental Illness and Abuse every day.
This is why Social Justice is so important in the fight against the Stigmas of Mental Illness and Trauma. The two are built off of one another. This knowledge is what drives my work. This is why Lifeinmydays is filled with Social Justice work, even though it's about life. You can not remove Social Justice, and Stigma, from our experiences. Not just because they both affect us, but because they also affect each other.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.