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Do You Call It Domestic Violence if It Doesn't Happen at Home?

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“Bit of domestic vaaalenz happenin' there,” my driver drawled, gesturing to the brawl going on in the car next to ours. The driver had the passenger in a headlock and they were beating and attacking each other. The boot swung open. The passenger’s door swung open almost into us and the passenger flailed headfirst sideways out of the car trying to escape and got hauled back in. The car swerved and turned around against traffic and went into a driveway and we saw no more of them.

What should I have done? If it weren't for the car windows and metal sides separating us, I could almost have touched the passenger when they came swinging out of the moving car. But in a typically urban moment, they were physically next to us but socially on another planet. We were cocooned in our safe bubble of metal and glass. I felt my job was to call 911, but what would I have said? Someone is beating up their significant other, who is fighting back, in a dark jeep on some street somewhere in Century City? Not enough information.

Shit happens. All the time. And there but for the grace of God go we.

I arrived at LACMA and felt bored by figurative art. Commissioned portraiture simultaneously bored and impressed me. I was bored by the subjects, and bored by technical prowess, and bored by flat representations of someone else's observations. But I was impressed by the genius required in being able to see humanity in...people!

In this world of people who beat their romantic partners up in cars, in this world of stupid people, in this world of people who not only are deaf and blind but do not care to open their minds, in this world of endless cruelty and thoughtless destruction, all of it squarely homo sapiens' fault, you have to have a laser microscope and the lantern that Socrates held aloft (as he roamed the streets of Greece searching for an honest man), to find the spark of the divine in us. Sometimes it seems that to see the beauty inherent in the breadth and warmth and depth of the collective human soul in your average human being…that, Gentle Reader, is talent indeed.

Perhaps if we could cultivate in ourselves the talent for seeing the spark, we might breathe more omnipresent life into it by the act of witnessing it. At the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, if we could develop our capacity to see the good in people, good, in turn, might develop its capacity to be seen.

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