Just yesterday, I dealt with a guy complaining that black people keep mentioning 350 years of suffering in relation to current status and events. After a bit, I asked him The Question: under the same historical conditions, would whites have been as damaged and complained as much? As was predictable, he could not answer “yes.” To this day, no one who is disturbed by mention of that history has been willing to state a clear belief in human equality. And they do not grasp that THEY are the reason that history must be repeated. As long as there is one of them denying the truth, there will be one of us proclaiming it.
The opposite is true of course: I make no room for black people who believe whites harbor some special evil. No, people are just people.
The same is true with gender. There was a recent thread where a woman pressured a man into having sex, and people were blaming this on “toxic masculinity”: the man feeling he had to live up to a priapic self-image, and women “acting like men” to take what they want.
Facinating, really. A “heads I win, tails you lose” approach where the negatives are all blamed on one side of the equation. Blindness. If men and women are equal, they have equal positives and negatives. Isolated circumstances can create an imbalance one way or another, but nature really won’t tolerate a long-term serious imbalance, and nature trumps culture over time.
In other words: the real game, the Awakening game, demands that you go deeper, move beyond dualities. Beyond black and white. Beyond male and female. If you can’t see how human beings are both filled with love and wonder and strength but also fear and grasping and manipulativeness, you will miss the boat.
Worse, you are unlikely to recognize these things within yourself: fail to see the beauty in the outside world, you cannot see your own. Fail to appreciate strength, and you will fail to develop your own. Fail to see indirect manipulation and fall into the illusion that direct action is the only power, and you are likely not to see how manipulative YOU are.
If you want people to move beyond black and white, or “male” and “female”, YOU must lead the way. Be the change you wish to see.
When the guy fumbled and went to the “I don’t know” whether whites would have been as damaged, he immediately went into the category of “those who will not commit to a belief in equality.” Both racists and those who cannot or will not look deeply enough to decide are in that category. They talk the same. They make the same arguments. I cannot read their minds, and don’t have the time or patience to educate them or sort them out.
Men and women who harbor a sense that either men or women are better, more evolved, more important, are welcome to associate with each other, and I wish them well. Sexists on either side make the same errors and have the same blindnesses. No time for them.
The same is true for political bigots. Say that your side more closely matches your values? Cool. Say that they are inherently evil or stupid? I have no time for that.
But there is a balancing awareness as well, you DO get temporary imbalances, times when people defined by race or gender or politics or whatever fly out of alignment due to stress or greed or fear, and begin to exhibit dysfunction that is not evenly spread throughout both groups. I’ve seen that. It rarely lasts long–months, years, a couple of generations at the max, usually, and then things even out and the other side goes just as nuts. So it IS reasonable to say: “Wow. Those X are going a little nuts, aren’t they?” with a realization that it will be Our Team’s turn next, as it was just a few years or decades ago.
People are just people.
Now, this rubric isn’t perfect, but it is vastly superior to the assumption that one side or the other is inferior–that is either self-serving or self-hating. Ugh.
One measure of its effectiveness is to perform a mental exercise:
What would a conversation be with someone with your attitudes, but coming from the other side? In other words, a person who believes whites would have survived slavery better gets paired with someone who believes whites would have done worse, or blacks would have been kinder, gentler masters. The two of you are gonna have dinner conversation. How does that go? Hell, lock them in a room and let them fight it out with hand grenades.
Or a woman who believes men are beasts having dinner with a man who thinks women are inferior chattle. How does that dinner go? (Curiously, I’ve seen some of THOSE meetings escalate into intense “hate sex” sessions. Go figure.)
But two people who believe in equality? They can have that dinner perfectly peaceably. I will discuss any problems in the inner city with someone who can take that step of seeing full humanity. Will discuss any issue of gender relations with someone who sees the magnificence and pettiness of both men and women. Will discuss any political issue with Republicans willing to believe Democrats are just as smart and good, but see things differently.
The people who can see both sides can grasp the flow of history without rancor, and look in the mirror, seeing their own failings without fear or guilt. They are the ones who will find the answers, the ones who can heal.
The others are having a nightmare, and are to be pitied. Fear is a terrible thing.