Wednesday, May 16, 2018

To be seen, and not heard

Are we complicit in sustaining a structurally racist patriarchy the world over simply by trying to be nice?
It's a question that has to be asked if we are to achieve anything like a semblance of parity in a world where brutality seems to reign supreme; over our coveted personal spaces and our time; over communities struggling to provide for their basic necessities; over whole nations whose right to exist is thrown in doubt simply because the civilised thing to do is to smile and be silent when appalling, criminal, shameful acts are perpetrated in plain sight of everyone, even those who avert their gazes at the last minute.
When we are confronted by a starkly repelling sight, such as a person being dehumanised in public, our reactions to the fact of its immediately present enactment becomes, first and foremost, a political act. Auto-applying context, judging the degrees against which these acts must be measured, and justifying bizarrely violent responses to everyday events seem to have become second nature to those of us who live in a world without recourse to a fundamentalist ideology that we can use to mask the harsh realities of the world in which we live. Community standards are referred to when we are confronted by uncommon practices that we are loathe to spend a smidgen of time researching, while we could be catching up with people with whom we have the most in common and with whom those same standards can be relaxed without fear of social reprisal.
No one is advocating a world where we question our present-day realities, and that is, in and of itself, a strangely medicated response to a state of absolute abnormality. There is much to be said of the need for maintaining communal peace and harmony, and contributing to the economy by following socially established norms such as; obtaining gainful employment, paying taxes, consuming necessities and luxuries in varying measures based on our skills at manipulating the labour and/or capital markets. But, to condone a direly inequitable global system of basic wants and needs as it affects over half of the world's population while, at the same time, manifestly ignoring the shabby form of the homeless person one purposefully passes by everyday to and from a daily mélange of meetings, appointments, and trysts, is... inhuman surely. Why do we smirk when a colleague who is a little removed from the rest of us, whether in ability, provenance, race, or gender, has that difference pointed out to them in a particularly pointed manner? Why do we nod our heads in understanding when we hear judgements being made in ignorance, biases being aired freely in 'polite' company, prejudices being fortified in solemn solidarity? Are we subscribing to a sense of conformity that it is expected of us, an expectation that a certain amount of rocking the boat within unspoken of parameters is tolerable so long as it doesn't list too much?
Stop being nice to the people around you when they are not being nice to others. There really isn't anything else to say. The wages of your complicity will not overcome a world of heartache, and war, and disease, and waves of refugees descending on your shores, and environmental ravaging, and the question being asked of a quiet night in the stillness of your child's bedroom about why the world is as it is.

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