06 September 2017

"Do you know why you're here?"

A reporter trying to introduce an audience to a story will sometimes ask the question to a child while the cameras roll and the mics are hot.

The question seems innocent enough, even noble at first.  Give the child an opportunity to express a personal situation in personal terms.  Help the child have a voice. Set up a story.

The question is designed to elicit an emotional reaction that sucks in an audience.  The child stops,  struggles to explain complex medical terms that most people can't understand, or thinks for a moment about the answer.  Tears well up and frustration builds. The excitement of "I'm gonna be on tv" drains away as the child realizes this is just another reminder that something is very wrong. The self-defense mechanisms kick in. Time to be brave for mom or dad. To tell everyone it's not that bad, not that scary.

The question is an exercise of power and aggression. It's the "do you know why" underlying assertion that maybe the reporter knows something the child doesn't.  Maybe mom or dad didn't explain everything.

The question is a demand of a child - before we begin, you must admit you are not normal.  You are scared. You are defined by an illness.

The answer came from a young one, without a parent present (but with parental consent), surrounded by strangers, who scowled and trembled and just before curling into the fetal position said:

"Yeah. I'm here so I can go home."