In the same line as the last post, I’d like to talk about racial battles, discrimination and silence. However, I’d like to talk about what makes or breaks these negative actions/situations. The main point of this post is to learn how to properly communicate ideas and social change in a way that is respectful to everybody. Even bigoted people; because (even though it’s hard to believe) they are humans too.
We are all humans. We are born alike. Yet, society marks some as unfit and others as fit. These social stamps create different experiences, upbringings, beliefs, and realities for each person. This is the magic of diversity. However, sometimes, someone’s reality ends up harming another person’s reality. It can create homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, misogyny, etc. These are behaviors that can be modified; but not eliminated. What do I mean by that? That a behavior can be changed, can be modified, can be socially policed and stopped. However, thoughts and beliefs cannot. A belief system is built-in since childhood, it can be modified and it can be changed but only if the person who believes in it wants to change it. In other words, another person cannot step in and try to change a person’s beliefs, regardless of how wrong the person’s belief system may be. The only way a person’s belief system can be changed by another person is if said person (with the belief system) is willing to listen and consider the other person’s stance.
An example of this was the victory we recently had on equal marriage rights. It’s no longer ‘gay marriage’ but marriage. That, in itself, was a glorious day to be alive. My fellow LGBTQ folk finally can go out and marry who they want. This change brought joy to those who supported it, bliss to those it applied to but disdain to those who opposed it. The law is the law, and it cannot be bent (let’s not go into corruption, let’s keep it simple). Meaning that it is legal for same-sex partners to marry, and no bigoted person will change that. Hence, the hate may not be visible in actions, by said closed-minded people, but it is alive and burning in their thoughts. Can their beliefs of being against same-sex marriage be changed? Well, only if the party who is against it is willing to hear out the same-sex marriage supporters. In other words, we can police a person’s actions, behavior, but we can’t police their beliefs and their thoughts.
We can speak out over unjust treatment. We can stop a racist/ bigoted/ insensitive / sexist comment out right and educate the person; but we can never change the way they think. For a person to change and grow, said person must be willing to listen; which is a personal choice. The person must be willing to step inside the shoes of another and consider their stance and thoughts. This does not mean that said person will change their mind and say “wow! By you explaining the connection of oppression I understand that I am a sexist.” This my darlings, rarely ever happens. A person who is willing to listen and understand you will not sit idly by and get ‘schooled’ he/she/them will give you their reasons and maybe even fight you. Nevertheless, if the person does take into consideration what you say it will be days, months, years before they actually change their thoughts; if they ever do.
What am I babbling about? Well think about it this way. Imagine you believe in something strongly. Let’s get something simple like you enjoy pear avocado and someone likes hass avocados (bear with me people). They’re both avocados, but one is your avocado and the other one belongs to the other person, let’s call them Jay. You tell Jay that normal avocados are good because they’re bigger and much tastier. Jay, on the other hand thinks you’re wrong and enjoys the much smaller hass avocados because they’re tiny and have a more refined taste. The problem here is that you have never had a hass avocado and Jay has never had a pear avocado. Thus, you are both taking a stance over something that is important to you but you are unwilling to taste the other side of the argument (all the pun intended).
This, my sweetlings, in a very watered down version is what happens when you fight someone who is unwilling to listen to your argument. Communication has to be a two-way street, at all times. No matter how disgusted you are with someone else’s argument. No matter how close-minded it is. You have to be able to understand that, this person was raised this way; to think and act this way. Dose this excuse this person from being bigoted, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic? Hell to the No. However, if you, as the bigger person realize their inability to understand you can have a stronger stance in your convictions. When you realize that fighting with someone who doesn’t want to reason or listen to you, then you can re-direct your battle to someone else; someone who will listen.
Finally, I feel like I need to stress a couple of things:
- You cannot demand that someone listen to you if you are not willing to listen as well.
- You cannot demand a person to change their ideals or personality to fit your desire.
- Just imagine if someone asked that of you, how will you feel?
- Never confuse ideals with behavior. You can hate something and not act violently against it.
- It is okay to call out people when they are being offensive.
- You cannot ask anything you are not willing to give yourself.
- Give tolerance to receive tolerance.
- Never resort to vandalism, disorderly conduct, aggression or denigrating anyone or anything.
- If you need to act out/ scream to get your point across, then you need a better argument.
There is a good battle to be fought. Not through fire, fists or hate but through words, patience and love. Don’t stand idly when injustice is happening but don’t sink down to their level. Animals can only make noise, whereas humans can talk.
The world hasn’t ended yet. Let’s try to make it great again.
Signing off, TWS