There have been many people in my life who have told me that I am broken. Some have used it as a justification of why I need to conform to their world view. One used it as the reason he went out with me, I was something to be fixed and then we could part. He would have done what was needed to help a fellow human being. There have been organisations which saw me a something so broken that only extreme measures would do to put me back together. But all of them saw me as something which was less than them.
This world is full of people who believe that their reality is the only one. They walk through it with a measuring stick that says if you do not conform to this ideal we must stretch you or cut pieces of until you match up. In their own minds they are working towards the best for the other person, they want to mend the cracks and heal the wounds, but in the end it is all rather egotistical. To say that someone else is broken is to say that we are not and that is not the truth.
Humanity is not perfect, and never can be, something which is based on a unified ideal. For all that artists and philosophers have pondered and suggested what a human should be. But in reducing humans down to a single ideal subject they destroy humanity. It removes the right to human experience which can benefit us as a collective unit. My experiences are very different to those you have had. How I would interact with a mundane item like a blueberry would be very different. Where you might just eat it, I would sniff it, feel it, look at the bloom and the colouring to see which variety it was before chomping down. Neither interaction is wrong but you would learn something when I said “this is a Jersey not a Patriot”. That is, if you thought that listening to my experience and my understanding had value. How much more valuable is my difference when I am able to tell you the blueberry you think you’re eating is actually deadly nightshade and not a blueberry at all? You might value my difference then.
So to be broken is in fact a misnomer. When we apply that term to someone we are conceding that we believe ourselves perfect, that we consider ourselves somehow better. But more than this the damage we can do to the person who believes us can have dire results. To the person who believes they are broken there is a shift in how they see themselves and the world around. Instead of seeing the good within themselves they are taught to focus to the cracks and flaws. Instead of celebrating themselves as unique and valuable they are taught to see the damage and how separate they are. Very often we don’t need to repeat our observation to them more than once. In the end, like the man tied between horses, that person knows that they will have no hope and they give up fighting for themselves. Suicide, depression, isolation, self harm, and the perpetuation of damaging behaviours can become the pattern and all because you called them broken. We hand them the ropes and show them the horses with our words and allow them to do the destroying themselves.
Not every life is the same, if we want everyone to think like we do we are deluding ourselves because its not how the human race works. How much better is it to reinforce the good in one another, to cherish the differences for what we can learn from them, and to be humble enough to say “do your best and do it your way?” In doing it this way society has managed to move forwards. Without the dreamers and the failures there would be no progress. So the next time you think of someone as broken, look to your own flaws, and wonder why the person isn’t pointing them out to you.