Privileges are complicated. There is no static hierarchy of oppression. Intersectionality provides a tool to grapple with the interplay between different identity politicians, but there’s no story of why beta white male experts might feel disqualified. from these frames. There is no framework for why white Christians may feel oppressed by rights activists. When we think about privilege, we talk about the historical nature of oppression, but we don’t take into account the ways in which people’s experience of privilege is local. We do not explain the confounding nature of perception, except for the argument that everyone needs to wake up.
Struggles with perception
We live in a complex interwoven society. In a way, it is intentional. After World War II, many politicians and activists wanted to make the world more interdependent, allowing globalization to prevent another world war. It is a clear fact that we are all dependent on social, economic, and technical infrastructure that we cannot see and appreciate. Certainly, we can talk about our food being affordable because we depend on low-paid undocumented labor. We may underestimate our drugs because we do not value all of the regulatory processes that ensure that what we consume is safe. But we take many things for granted; that’s the only way to move through the day without constantly worrying about whether the building we are in will collapse or not.
Without understanding the intricate interplay of things, it’s hard not to get frustrated about some of the things we see. But at the same time, complexity cannot be kept. I can appreciate why individuals are outraged when they feel as if they have to pay taxes when that money is donated to foreigners through foreign aid and immigration programs. These people feel like they are in trouble; like they’re working hard; like they’re dealing with an injustice. However, for me, everyone’s sense of prosperity is only as good as the feeling that they are ahead. And when you’ve made $ 40 / hour union job just to lose that job and feel like the only other option is a $ 25 / hour job, it feels terrible, no matter what. This is more than most people make. There’s a reason Silicon Valley engineers feel as if they’re in trouble, and that’s not because they’re comparing themselves to people around the world. That’s because the standard of living is constantly falling before their eyes. All are relative.
It’s easy to say “bastard” or “boo hoo hoo,” or point out that most people do it much worse. And, on some level, this is true. But if we don’t take people’s feelings into account, we won’t reach a more just world – we will ignite the flames of a new cultural war as society becomes increasingly polarized. .
The difference between statistical data and perception is staggering. I can’t help but shake my head when I hear people talk about life today better than ever in history. They point out that increased life expectancy, new drugs, reduced infant mortality and reduced poverty rates around the world. And they shake their heads in frustration about how people don’t seem to get there, don’t seem to get it better today than yesterday. But perception isn’t about statistics. It is about feeling secure, confidence in one’s ecosystem, the belief that through personal effort and God’s will, each day will be better than the last. That is not where the vast majority of people are now. On the contrary, they feel extremely insecure, as if their world is very precarious.
I am deeply concerned that the values and ideals that I share are achieving solidarity through righteous rhetoric also setting up standards of condemnation and resistance. I don’t fully understand my discomfort, but I’m afraid what I see around me is making things worse. And so I go back to some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches. To get inspired today, and I started to reflect on his words. Let me leave this in thought with this quote:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
giving birth to the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of reducing evil, it multiplies.
Through violence you can kill a liar,
But you cannot kill lies, nor can you establish the truth.
Through violence you can kill enemies,
But you don’t kill people who hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hatred.
So it goes.
Repaying violence for violence multiplies violence,
add deeper darkness to an already starless night.
Darkness cannot dispel darkness:
only light can do that.
Hatred cannot dispel hatred: only love can.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.