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I Have to Be Seen to Be Believed

Thank you for the recommendations on the Roundup for books and documentaries pertaining to the British royal family.  A few were in the library (and we found a few others on YouTube, though got distracted by the original footage of Princess Diana’s interview with Bashir which ran in the background of The Queen), and we’ve already started watching a documentary on the Queen’s Jubilee year.

In it, the announcer attributed a quote to the Queen: “I have to be seen to be believed” and explained how this concept conveys into action.  She is on the road constantly, abroad and at home.  She is purposefully amongst the people as a tangible reminder of their government, of living history.  Because the opposite is true too: if she remained locked up in the castle, she wouldn’t have a deep connection with the people.  How can you when you don’t see the people you are administering to, and they can’t see you?  How can they feel affection for you if you barely seem real; this far-off entity that feels like a character out of a piece of historical fiction rather than a living and breathing human.  With feelings.  Because… that’s sort of the point I think she makes walking amongst her people: I am here.  I am real.  I am a human being with feelings, just like you.  I am vulnerable, just like you.  I am mortal, just like you.


Image: The Irish Labour Party via Flickr

As we watched the documentary, I kept turning over that idea in my head because I sort of feel that writing our blogs follows in the same vein.  Our words have to be seen to be believed.  That we need others to read our words and consider our words (or else, we’d write in a private journal) in order to mark our existence.  We’re here.  We exist.  We have feelings.  We need people to believe in us, perhaps not in the same way that the Queen needs her subjects to believe in her.  But on a small scale, we all need a few people in this world to believe in us, to believe that we’re good people, worthy of being around — or, at least our words are worthy to be around in the virtual sense.

We need to be seen.  We need to be believed.  We need to be believed in.  We need people out there to show us some interest.  We need to feel a connection to the people around us, through leaving behind our words or reading someone else’s words.  We need to comment, to interact.  That belief is a social contract; that we are both acknowledging each other, nodding our heads.  I’ve noticed you.  You’ve noticed me.  We both have recognized each other’s existence.

I kept thinking about how deeply hurt the Queen was in the movie The Queen (yes, it’s fiction, but… I assume based on something more than just assumption) when she walked amongst the people outside the palace after learning that one in four wanted to be done with the monarchy.  That hurt stemmed from being completely misunderstood, with having meaning attributed to her actions (staying at Balmoral) with people only knowing a small slice of the story and assuming they knew the whole thing.

And again, we see the same hurts play out daily in the blogosphere; the snarky comments, the misconstrued words, even the helpful criticism that makes the writer feel like shit when they see their foibles noticed in black and white.

Most of the time, we don’t take it with the grace the Queen continues to show year after year of living out the entirety of her life in the public’s eye.

There’s a lot you can learn from older generations.

On a side note, all these documentaries and movies are making me walk around the house, speaking in a horrible British accent.  The ChickieNob and I particularly like to say to each other, “P-p-p-p-positively medieval!”  Or, “it’s ma’am, as in ham.  Not mah’am, as in palm.”  We’re so going to end up as living history reenactors.


1 WenatcheeGirl { 04.06.14 at 10:14 am }

This is a fan letter. I’m a lurker, but I’m here everyday and your words always inspire me. You make a difference in my life. Just wanted you to know.

2 Queenie { 04.06.14 at 11:37 am }

I can’t remember what time of year you went to London, and the palace is only open in the summer. Did you get a chance to go? We went on 4th of July, and had a blast. Miss M ran around the castle looking for the queen the whole time. 🙂 If you get a chance to go back, it is definitely worthwhile.

3 tigger62077 { 04.06.14 at 3:53 pm }

You make a valid point, and I think it’s something a lot of us struggle with. We don’t FEEL like we are seen. People read, and lurk, and we never get comments, so we stop writing. Well, start writing! you might say. If there’s no indication that anyone is reading me, why bother? Yes, to get the words out of my head and that is what sometimes drives me to write again finally, when I have a pervasive thought that just won’t quit. But so often I have only one or two people who bother to comment (and I DO appreciate them!) that sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it because I’m shouting into the void.

4 Lori Lavender Luz { 04.06.14 at 5:20 pm }

Yes, this: “We need to be seen. We need to be believed. We need to be believed in. We need people out there to show us some interest.”

Now I want to watch The Queen.


5 Persnickety { 04.06.14 at 5:35 pm }

A bit of historical geekery-England always had an itinerant court- the royal procession was part of the way kings ( and the odd queen) held power, by reminding each corner of the country of the crown. It started to disappear with the Stuart kings- but the idea that they must be seen to be beleived has history.

6 Jill A. { 04.06.14 at 6:42 pm }

I agree that we have to be seen. Somewhere, by someone, at sometime.

If you have never run across it, here is a site:
(I’m sorry, I don’t know how to post a link to click)
with short life lessons from older people. It is a lot of fun! Very interesting and thought provoking.

7 Mali { 04.06.14 at 7:18 pm }

I really loved this. Since I left full-time employment, even though I have gone on to Chair a successful export company for years, and have done all sorts of other interesting things (volunteer counsellor, self-employed consultant and trainer, blogger, writer etc), I have found that I am almost invisible to certain people in my circle of friends and family. I’m not a mother. I’m not “working” in the only context they can understand. So I’m invisible. It makes being seen through blogging even more important to me now.

8 Justine { 04.07.14 at 12:10 am }

Being seen, and bearing witness.

Sometimes I wonder if there are writers out there who don’t care about audience. I guess, in some respects, there’s no point in writing at all unless you care, is there?

Much as I wish to be less externally motivated, I am grateful for every comment that reminds me I’m alive, and worth reading.

9 James Betts { 04.09.14 at 3:09 am }

Thank you for your post. It’s much easier to admit that we need to be seen than to fight against this human desire.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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