You know, come to think of it, I had a pretty good education on how bad the Holocaust was and how it should never happen again. I know I’ve had classes in middle school and high school that have dedicated entire semesters to the horrors of the Holocaust.
What I never, ever learned about the Holocaust in school was: how it happened, what caused it, how to keep it from happening again. That’s a pretty big thing to leave out.
So, my father was a security guard. Not only that, but he was chief of security at a major hotel. (Tch, one of the most successful hotel chains in the country and they paid their chief of security minimum wage.) And there were a lot of incidences at this hotel. It was near a boarding school that this last year got shut down for abuse, so in his time there were a lot of runaways, a lot of angry adults, teachers covering their asses, and so on. It was right on the border with Ohio, so you’d often have people who were in trouble in one state crossing over. It had a popular bar, so there were a lot of drunken violence. Occasionally a famous person with an addiction. Or just belligerent guests in general. A high school dance party gone wrong, baby boomers who didn’t get their wine fast enough, a couple that started having fun but ended the night in debauchery, etc. Sometimes there was some form of abuse going on in a room, and sadly it was a common occurrence for a woman to come in needing to hide from an abusive partner, at which point the security chief really needed to be on alert for if the partner came looking for her.
As much as I hate the guy, he was a pretty good security guard. He wore breakaway ties so he couldn’t be grabbed, he knew a bit of kuk sool won, he was trained in the use of firearms, pepper spray, and tear gas, plus he was a big, burly guy with a terrifying voice when he was mad. And he had good elocution and confidence. I think in the decade or so he was there, he only had to get the cops involved less than a handful of times, he was that good at keeping the peace.
Here’s the thing: He was never, ever, allowed to touch a patron. Not only would he have been fired if he had, but he would have been brought up on assault charges by the law. All that gun experience, all that gas training, all the martial arts? He wasn’t allowed to use them at all while on the job. He wasn’t even allowed to jab a finger into a guy’s chest to tell them to watch themselves, bud. He could not touch them. Even in a case of immediate harm or death of another patron, he was not to engage other than to get others to safety and to call the police. He could have saved someone’s life by punching out a knife-wielding asshole, and he would have been fired at the very least.
Naturally, being a big, intimidating guy worked in his favor, because most people didn’t want to fuck with him even if they didn’t normally consider a guy in a suit to be tough. He had the honeyed words to make a guy shit his pants, basically. Never once did he touch someone trying to start a fight, and still cops were rarely called. He could get people to calm down or to leave the premises without violence, without even touching them. And he got hit a few times, and he was still able to handle it would touching the other guy.
And yes, I get it. Air security is a different thing than building security. And if there had been a bomb or a gun or a knife, the narrative would be different. But there wasn’t. It was just one guy, unfairly singled out, frustrated with being unfairly singled out and missing his flight and wanting to go home. His only crime was being stubborn, and he had reason to be. He never made the first move. Hell, he could have even been physically violent towards the security and it never should have warranted the brutality of the response. It wasn’t proportional.
tl;dr Wild concept: it’s possible to defuse a potential situation without trying to kill or maim someone.
Magnus had come to give his insight on the possible lead
they received on the whereabouts of the Soul Sword, and when he announced he
needed to look into a few books to give his final conclusion, Alec eagerly
agreed to help him. The two of them were going through the small stack of books
on one side of the table, flipping pages and exchanging whispered words, while
Izzy, Jace and Clary were developing a further plan of action on the other.
Just as Jace was debating with Izzy over how many of them
should go, it happened.
light and carefree, the sound filling the room, the laughter so full and good
that it seemed to brighten the entire space around them. Jace stopped
mid-sentence and blatantly stared at his brother; because he cannot remember the
last time he’s heard Alec laugh like that.
He can’t remember if he ever has.
“Am I hallucinating or is that Alec laughing?” Clary whispered and only then did Jace notice that
both she and Izzy had their eyes on Alec as well.
“If you’re hallucinating, then so am I,” Izzy whispered back
and looked at Jace, her eyes wide and almost disbelieving, but then a smile
started spreading across her face until it become one of the brightest ones
Izzy had. Jace couldn’t help but grin back, because by the Angel, Alec has
never been this happy and Jace knows that means the world to Izzy, just like it
does to him.
“No one is hallucinating, I just happen to be very amusing,”
Magnus said, breaking the moment, but when Jace looked over, Alec was shaking
his head, breathing out another tiny laugh. The clever comeback Jace had died
at his throat when he noticed the look in Magnus’ eyes and the brightness of
his smile, because he realized something.
I think the core thing that caused The Last Airbender to be the horrible, piece of shit movie that it is was the fact that Shyamalan clearly looked down on the TV series as just some dumb children’s show and not for the good thing it is. It really shows through in the movie that he thought that the show’s just a mindless cartoon made to momentarily distract children too dumb to comprehend the world around them. That was his first of many mistakes, and that, combined with his incompetence, laid the foundation for the film.
In particular the outrage over chemical weapons is of course a cultural understanding about how deaths should happen (since chemical weapons often cause prolonged and intense suffering) but it is truly wild to see people not show the same outrage over conventional weapons use in warfare, and I think we should be critical of swallowing whole this idea of the red line of chemical weapons because it was always propaganda. It’s a largely arbitrary line to draw, this notion that chemical warfare is inherently worse.
When you look at pictures of sounds from conventional weapons it becomes clear that they do not prevent prolonged and intense suffering- untold numbers of people have died very slowly on battlefields from bleeding out, limbs have been thrown off by bullets and mines alike, bodies riddled with bullet holes, shrapnel causing lifelong issues if you even make it off the battlefield, all of these are instances of intense and sometimes prolonged suffering as well. Are children killed by US drone strikes, obliterated with US bombs, or murdered in crossfire between any number of actors, any less important? Are their deaths less moving? Are their deaths not moving? It’s nonsense, and it’s pathos used in the worst way to get us to ignore that warfare, violence, death, these are all nasty things no matter how they come about.
This isn’t a defense of chemical weapons either, but I think we need to rethink this idea that conventional warfare is somehow less cruel or violent or nasty.
Do you think Derek ever remembers the Stiles that he first met, the loud mouthed, cheerful, quirky, smirking, always moving, always curious Stiles, basically the definition of ALIVE, and he knows Stiles has been through a lot even before that but it never crushed his spirit completely.
Do you think he looks at the Stiles after the nogitsune and everything else he’s had to go through, seeing right in front of him how much quieter Stiles is, how he might flinch at surprise noises or contact, how he doesn’t strive to know everything about anything anymore, how he keeps his head low and approaches things in a more calculating way, a tired way, rather than wholeheartedly.
Do you think he sees the tight lipped smile and the dark eyes and thinks to himself how he should have been more present, how he should’ve been able to do something, ANYTHING, to stop this from happening. Because it happened to himself, he should know how it goes by now, he should’ve seen the signs, he should’ve dared to believe the nagging voice in the back of his head and should’ve stepped forward when he saw that no one else would. But no, he had let himself believe in his self-pity, that Stiles, someone so great could never fall, that he could never experience something like Derek because he was too strong and too precious and too amazing, that he could never need someone like Derek when he has so many people around him.
Do you think he blames himself for not realizing sooner that they are both just people, that he is not some monster who attracts and deserves all the worst for just existing, that what happened to him could happen to anyone, and that Stiles is not an actual angel, who is immune to everything (even if he was Derek’s guardian angel).
Do you think Derek’s heart breaks over and over again every time Stiles half heartedly jokes that they’re all just broken now and that Derek isn’t alone.
Do you think he sees the plea in Stiles’ eyes that he doesn’t dare speak, the way Stiles had seen it in his before he had even known what he wanted, a touch, a hug, unconditional trust, but that he doesn’t know what to do because he still doesn’t trust himself, and all he wants to do is fall to his knees and tell Stiles he’s sorry for letting things go this way, and he knows that it’s pathetic and he’s just being his self-deprecating self again, and that it’s not helping anyone - it never has - but he doesn’t know what to do, all he knows is what Stiles had done for him and he knows he can’t be as great as Stiles, he can’t.
Do you think he tries anyway because he would give his heart and his soul, or what’s left of it anyway (sometimes he doesn’t believe there’s anything left at all but considering he’s alive, and considering the way something beats hard in his chest when Stiles’ eyes meet his there must be SOMETHING there) no matter how small and shattered- he’d give it all for Stiles. And he can’t rewind time and he can’t fix him, and Stiles deserves so much more than his shattered pieces, and one day surely, Stiles will find someone better, someone who serves as a cooling balsam to the pain within, and that thought makes his throat close up and his chest burn and it almost makes him turn away from Stiles because he’s been taught in the past not to give anything if there’s a risk he’ll get burnt- but he does it anyway, because this is Stiles and if he’s not getting what he needs from anyone else, if by chance he’s not letting anyone else in for the moment, if Derek knows where the cracks are and how to warm them, then he’ll be there. And he might not be enough but at least he’s something and maybe, just maybe he can serve some kind of purpose, whichever it may be, to preserve that last part of Stiles that’s hidden behind the cold exterior, maybe he’ll be just enough to help Stiles survive until his life pieces itself back together again and Stiles is back on his own two feet.
Do you think he takes Stiles’ hand, silently because he was never good with words, and because he remembers that most of the time Stiles had comforted him by touch alone, small gestures, rather than his wide vocabulary of words, and that he’s surprised when Stiles isn’t.
Do you think that the tears that form in Stiles’ eyes at the contact take all of the sorrys from Derek’s lips because he loses his breath when Stiles gives his hand a gentle squeeze and sniffles, smiling ever so slightly, not strong enough for an honest full fledged smile, because it would be a lie if he did, but this one is real and it’s the most beautiful thing Derek has ever seen because it means he was right, Stiles is still in there and he might know the one or other thing about getting him out.
Do you think they’re still overly careful around each other and about digging too deep, they’re cautious to protect each other, and they might seem to bicker and argue harshly on the outside about trivial things, but when it comes to words with depth they’re both quiet and calm, and Derek sticks to his silent gestures until they start losing their power.
Do you think the time he sets a hand on Stiles’ back and Stiles pulls away, fear makes his chest tight that he’s reached his limit and he’s not enough anymore, that he’s got nothing more left to give and that this is the point where he has to let Stiles go to find someone better, someone worthy, who will put that real, honest, full fledged, ear to ear grin on Stiles’ face in the most vulnerable of moments.
Do you think Derek remembers that time, where Stiles broke through all his walls and looked straight into his soul with just one word, a seemingly irrelevant word in an irrelevant conversation that had nothing to do with either of them, really, except for fighting off a threat with a paralyzing tail.
Do you think he remembers how Stiles gave everything back then, prior to that word, he used all the energy he had left in him to keep both their heads over water and that he would’ve died to try and save them both, and Derek had found a way to dismiss it, thinking Stiles is the kind of person who would sacrifice himself for anyone, kind of like himself except that Derek did it because he thought he deserves to die much more than anyone else and Stiles probably did it because he thinks no one deserves to die unless they’re trying to kill someone else.
Do you think he takes a step forward to chase the step Stiles took away and tells him simply “you’re not alone”, and it’s three words to Stiles’ one but it’s the best he’s got and he always knew his best is not even close to Stiles’, and he knows he’s got to try everything, give it everything he’s left in him all the way to the end, because Stiles’ would do the same for him if he let him, and he has to take the chance just in case Stiles lets him to the same.
Do you think Derek keeps on talking, thinking about the way he likes hearing Stiles’ voice when he’s down, and talking might not come easy to him but it gets easier when he sees Stiles is listening and his shoulders slump as if he’s finally letting some of the weight of his walls fall.
Do you think Derek envelopes Stiles tightly, not trying to prevent it when he breaks and starts sobbing into his chest, but holding him together so that he doesn’t feel shattered and scattered all over the place when the tears slowly cease, and it hurts, seeing Stiles like this, hearing the sobs that wrenched from him, and maybe it’s such a punch to the gut that Derek tears up himself, but this time he has to be there for Stiles so he keeps talking, making sure Stiles has something to focus on beside the sounds of his sobs.
Do you think that maybe when they both quiet down, exhausted, and Derek sees how reluctant Stiles is to leave his side just for a shower, even if he can’t look Derek in the eyes at the moment, and how they somehow drift back to each other when they lie down, how Stiles grasps onto his shirt tightly when Derek brings his arms back around him, that maybe Derek starts to think maybe there was a reason they kept getting pulled back to each other, maybe there’s a reason they can see past each other’s defenses and see more in each other than either would ever dare to admit, maybe, just maybe, he can be enough for Stiles, the way a scrawny, pale but dotted with moles, sarcastic 147 pounds of skin and bones teenager simply believing in him was enough or him years ago.