I have written about the power of reflection and the need for balance, before. Lately, I’ve been feeling ‘too busy’ for those things. However, it’s at those very moments when we most need them that we put aside the things that we benefit most from. Therefore, upon reflection, I decided to write about something important but risky.
In the day to day grind, it seems like the last thing anyone wants to hear, much less deal with, is a ‘difficult’ issue. Yet, they abound… and, waddya know? I’ve got one to talk about!
I’ve been reading Privilege, Power, and Difference by Allan G. Johnson. He really packs a heavy punch into a small book! Privilege, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, heterosexism, classism, dominance, subordination, oppression patriarchy, feminism, oppression and dominance are words that make many feel VERY uncomfortable. Nevertheless, we need to use those words to face the issues they describe, head-on. Most of us have strong beliefs in justice and equality but how do we ‘walk the talk’?
It’s a lot easier (in the short term, anyway) to bury our heads in the sand, dismiss the issues as irrelevant or unchangeable or get angry when someone brings these issues up and we feel uncomfortable. As Jones says, “It’s risky to promote change”. In fact, it takes an extreme amount of courage to become part of the solution. So… what can we REALLY do? Jones has some simple and effective suggestions:
- Acknowledge the issues as they exist
- Gain a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding privilege
- “Make noise, be seen”
- “Dare to make people feel uncomfortable, beginning with yourself”
- “Openly choose and model alternative paths”
- “Actively promote change in how systems are organized around privilege”
- “Support the right of women and men to love whomever they choose”
- “Pay attention to how different forms of oppression interact with one another”
- “Work with other people”
- “Don’t keep it to yourself”
- “Don’t let other people set the standard for you”
The ability to CHOOSE to do the right thing gives us our humanity.