This, I believe, is truly what is at the heart of the gulf between witnesses and researchers. Each side is speaking from the only place they know… but they are speaking very different languages.
Those who have not had personal, up-close experiences with Sasquatch languish in ivory towers expounding intellectually upon things with which they have little or no direct experience. Long-term witnesses express frustration when they interact with these folks who would presume to “know” that witnesses cannot possibly be experiencing that which they claim and ridicule them for it. Witnesses experience fear and anger when those who have never stood face-to-face with a Sasquatch soliloquize about the “necessity” for study, a body, a specimen. From the researcher/scientists perspective, it is not at all an emotional issue. But to the witness, who has come to know this proposed “specimen” as an INDIVIDUAL, who has often had life-altering experiences, who has been affected at their core from their interaction with this individual, it is impossible to separate emotion from the subject because they feel EMPATHY.The witnesses react emotionally and they are ridiculed for that as well. For their lack of “objectivity”.
Ironically, it seems that witness are successful because they feel empathy. I have learned, time and time again from my own experiences and from those of other witnesses, that the key ingredient to an increasingly close interaction with the Sasquatch is the willingness to allow them to remain in control of the situation. This requires empathy on our part. We must stand there in the dark, knowing that we’re facing something that could easily kill us with a single swipe of its powerful hand, yet remain passive, with the understanding that the individual who is standing before us requires us to do so in order to gain their trust. In order to gain trust, you must be trustworthy. If we are successful in providing them with the comfort of control, we are often rewarded with increased MUTUAL interaction.
I have a certificate in Early Childhood Education. In college, I learned that the ability to feel empathy is something that is developed in early childhood. Very young children are naturally self-absorbed; It’s all about me-me-me-me. They begin to learn that other people have feelings, needs, wants and desires too, but it is a slow process. As I sit here writing this blog, my beautiful 5 year-old little girl sits on my bed, watching her morning preschool program. During the commercial breaks, she begins jabbering at me about something she’s thought of. I listen, and answer her. And then I say, “Honey, Mom is doing her work. I’ll be done in a little while, but if you want to be in here, you need to be quiet, remember?” She says, “OK, Mom.” And, as soon as the next commercial break comes, she starts talking to me again. I chuckle. You can only be patient with a 5 year-old. They are still developing the ability to feel empathy for others – to acknowledge and remember that others’ feelings and needs are important, too.
Last night, after we’d gotten home from a long, exhausting day in town, I settled down on the couch for a bit and fell asleep… and woke to a crashing sound in the kitchen. “I’m sorry I woke you, Mom,” Rowan said. “I was cleaning up so you could rest.” I had tears in my eyes. My girl is learning empathy.
A researcher says to a witness, “I don’t care if you want to protect Sasquatch. I want to prove that they exist. If you claim all these interactions and can supposedly gather that proof, why won’t you? Why should I believe you if you don’t?” The researcher simply cannot fathom having the ability to PROVE the existence of Sasquatch and not doing so.
The researcher cannot empathize with the fact that the witness is empathizing with the Sasquatch.
The witness explains. “I don’t care about proof. I KNOW they exist. I see them often. I just wanted to try to share with you what I’ve learned about them, because I care about them and I don’t like the fact that you’re running around trying to shoot one/film them/exploit them. I understand that you haven’t interacted with one personally. But I hope that if I can make you understand what they’re like, that they deserve our respect, you’ll leave them alone, or at least learn to interact with them mutually.”
The researcher responds. “Where’s your pictures? Where’s your proof? I don’t believe you.” He turns to the other researchers. “Hey, look at this guy! He claims to be interacting with a Sasquatch but provides no proof. ”
The bullying and ridicule begin.
Sometimes it’s overt. Sometimes it is disguised as unemotional, intellectual discourse that disintegrates into nit-picking, semantic argument intended to inflame, embarrass or manipulate the witness into “putting up or shutting up”. In either case, it lacks empathy.
Meanwhile, the witness recognizes and feels deeply frustrated over the irony that the reason the researcher has had little luck in the field is that very lack of empathy. If the researcher could, for just a little while, put away their desire to be intellectually impressive, semantically “correct” and in control (in other words, wanting to be RIGHT based on little or no actual personal knowledge), they might actually approach the subject in a way that would benefit them with meaningful interaction that might answer some of their questions. It won’t provide them with an opportunity for proof, though. That would require the researcher being in control of the interaction with the Sasquatch, which is counterproductive to interaction. But the researcher WANTS proof. So they try to remain in control. Round and round it goes, leaving researchers chasing their tails for the last 50 years.
My dad has a saying… “Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?” It’s not just good advice in marriage… it’s pertinent to bigfoot research, too. ;)
See, the witness knows something the researcher doesn’t; not the other way around. The witness has first-hand knowledge that the researcher wants desperately. But the witness recognizes that they’re fighting a losing battle trying to communicate something that the researcher DOES NOT WANT TO HEAR because it won’t answer the question that the researcher is asking (IF they are, not WHAT they are), so the witness clams up and slips back into obscurity. It’s no skin off their nose. They still don’t need proof because they’re still having their experiences and they don’t feel the need to prove it to anyone else. Ticked off at a researcher’s arrogance and lack of empathy, witnesses will sometimes smugly get off that parting shot, reminding the researcher that because they are a witness they don’t need proof, which then REALLY frustrates the researcher because his fear is that the witness really did have the ability to produce the goods and simply wouldn’t produce them…. for reasons the researcher STILL cannot fathom. Again, for lack of empathy. The researcher is pissed because he couldn’t manipulate the witness… in other words, couldn’t CONTROL him.
And in the midst of our getting caught up in differences of perspective between humans, we forget the most important thing of all: Sasquatches don’t give a flying rat’s patootie whether you’re educated, intellectually superior or really good at arguing semantics. They don’t care that you want proof of their existence. They only care whether you’re a control freak or not. They only care about your ability to empathize with them and interact accordingly. It’s how they survive in spite of us.