I’ve been holding my breath or maybe it’s zoning out. Or zoning in. I’m not the only one. The news comes at us from all directions lately, but there is a chorus from another channel that is coming to the fore. It’s getting louder and clearer through the din of whining men and greedy, lying politicians. It’s beautiful and haunting and united and powerful. Most of the voices are women, but some are men. I find that I’m part of that chorus, that crescendo, a lost track that is finally getting through, slowly, gradually. Can you hear it?
A man who follows me on Twitter replied (to my repost of this Tweet) “Dear Women, I am so sorry.”
What a lovely sentiment. He’s listening, reading the responses. He’s not arguing. He gets it, or at least, he’s trying to. I thank him. I mean it.
Someone asks him, “why would you be sorry for something you never had a part in?”
I reply that everyone has a part.
He steps up onto his privilege and asks, “so the crimes that other people – which I never even saw, let alone know – are somehow my fault?”
This echoes a common complaint I’m seeing from (mostly white) people lately that they can’t watch the news anymore because it’s all bad. I want to have fun (in the same tone used to direct the jester, “entertain me”). Can’t we just “be nice?”
Wouldn’t that be lovely? if everyone would just do their part? if everyone recognized their responsibility for and to each other? even when it’s really hard?
How do I explain privilege, power, to a person who has wallowed in it their entire life, to a person who has never NOT had every advantage? How do you help a person see past the things they have seen, chosen to see, filtered through their spotless, rose-colored lens? How do I get them to turn on the news and accept that it happened even though they weren’t there to see it for themself? How do I show them the great big, beautiful, scary world outside their own? the world the rest of us live in?
Responsibility is hard. This is the part of growing up that sucks, the part they lied about in the brochure. Seriously. As members of society, we all benefit from each other’s work and knowledge, and we learn from the collective values. Over time, moral values change – hopefully for the betterment of all individuals – as the group learns, develops, grows. That is not to say outdated ideas don’t linger. They do, of course, to be phased out gradually as people who hold on to outdated ideas pass the torch to newer generations. It is on each of us to learn, to do better for ourselves and for each other every day. Awareness of our place is where we must start.
Once an individual recognizes that they have a place, a power (combination of privilege and current position in society), and a responsibility to/for others, they can begin to understand how they got it and how they can use it to affect change, for good or for ill. One must begin by seeing that they are part of a whole, the society they grew up in and were nurtured by. It really does take a village to raise a child (another thing I struggle with today as I learn a teacher “friend” is spreading sexism to her students. . . what do I do with this information?!).
I think of that awakening, the recognition of our role, like the child finding out that his wants aren’t all there are. When he finds out that he isn’t the center of the universe he can begin to understand how satisfying his needs and wants can also help other people, people who are just as vital and valuable as he is, to satisfy theirs. He can see how others are people just like him, important, special, deserving of love and compassion and recognition. In my opinion, that is the beginning of understanding the difference between wanting freedom from (responsibility, work, rules, etc.) and wanting freedom to (do, be, share, contribute, etc.). If we strive to take care of basic needs and wants of all, we’re free to do for ourselves and for each other.
As a society, we’re responsible for how we provide for those who can’t take care of themselves. We are responsible for our children – all the children – for how they are educated, for how our values are passed on and which are passed on, for what opportunities are available to the children when they reach adulthood. We’re also responsible for those who resort to crime, for how they are judged, how they are punished or rehabilitated, for the treatment of their victims.
But society is the group; it is the whole. We can’t leave the decisions and the responsibility to the whole and ignore our role or pretend our part isn’t important. We are part of the whole, and we’re not entitled to anything beyond what everyone else is also entitled to. It is on us to set aside ego and greed, to recognize our place, to take our seat, to listen to each other, to roll up our sleeves, to do the work, to give and to take, to vote.
We can apologize to a group when we’ve neglected their needs like my follower did when he individually apologized to the group (women) on behalf of a subset he is a member of because of a trait he was born with (his sex). He chooses to listen. I thanked him for it, but honestly, it’s his job to listen, to learn what is wrong in the whole so he can do his part to fix it. It’s my job, too. It’s our responsibility as members of society to check the news, to be informed, to listen, to stand up to wrong, to support and encourage good, to believe when there is evidence even when we weren’t witnesses ourselves. It’s our responsibility to ask questions and to hear the answers. It’s our responsibility to take in the bad and the good, to find facts and truth, to work to make us better.
It’s wrong that so many voices – the abused, the oppressed, the marginalized – have been ignored. It’s wrong that there are marginalized in our society. It’s wrong that some still won’t see them or their plight.
It’s wrong that leaders are trying to bully groups and individuals into silence in a vain attempt to hold on to special power, privilege, so they can continue to abuse us. Lying about problems or ignoring them won’t make them go away. It makes the problems worse while it gives away too much of our power, individually and as a society, to the few who will continue to abuse it, to abuse us. Stand up to abuses of people, of power, of reason.
It’s wrong that the pain of the individuals has to be taken out, put on display, and amplified just to be heard at all.
They’re not speaking out to help themselves; they’re speaking out to help those who come after them. We join them in their chorus. They’ve taken that difficult first step, so we learn to get past our pain and find the courage to raise our voices with theirs. We must be heard for the health of the whole, for the children, for the future of the whole. We can strive to do better, to use our power and privilege for better, for everyone. And when it’s necessary, we must stand up for those who cannot.
The first step is finding our place, finding our power, and learning to take responsibility for the whole. It’s learning to share your power by listening and believing. It’s learning to say “I’m sorry.” And mean it. It’s taking responsibility, doing your part, to be sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s raising our voices with those who are standing for right and for love.
My Patreon, if you are so inclined. Your support and the time you gave to read this post are so precious to me. I can’t adequately express my gratitude. *hugs*
Link to original Tweet from Danielle Muscato.
Special “thank you” to Robert. *hug*
This is another of those rushed posts. I’ll proofread later (and probably update by deleting this line), but feel free to hit me up if you find a mistake. Help is always appreciated.
#OnlyLove and compassion with get us through this.
#GMPrivilegePrinciple #BelieveSurvivors #BLM