society

There Is No Safe Place

I’m starting to think the most important and most destructive privilege that privileged folks of any kind (white folks, straight folks, men, able-bodied folks midde-class and rich folks, etc.) ever inherited was the privilege to get away with being apolitical.

Just today, I saw in my feed an article about female double standards by Cracked. Of course, being a moron, I looked at the Comments and started debating. But there was one really heart-breaking comment. One guy pointed out (to paraphrase), “I scrape by, I try to treat women in my life with respect, can the Internet stop yelling at me now”?

Other people in that discussion said, “Go ahead, take my privilege, just do it with civility!”

And I felt a tremendous amount of sympathy. But I also started thinking, “What do you think it’s like to be a woman every day, dude? Do you think they ever get a break from the Internet yelling at them either? Do you think they get a break at the office? Do you think they get a break when they listen to the radio and hear some misogynistic rapper?”

See, when you have privilege, when the system is generally working for you, politics is a disruption, an intrusion. Even very poor men who the class system is fucking over daily still have that ability to come home and have the politics turned off.

But that was always an illusion.

It has always been personal. The wage gap for women isn’t some statistical theory: It’s personal to those women who work hard and don’t ever seem to make as much as the men in their lives who worked as hard. The wealth gap for black folks isn’t just in some economic books: It means that black folks are just not as used to living in a nice house as white folks are.

Howard Zinn coined the idea, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train”. Of all of the wisdoms I’ve learned from the Left, that one has been amongst the most useful. The train always was moving. It’s not my fault, or your fault, or anyone’s fault who is alive that it is moving the direction it is.

Throughout history, we’ve always wanted a safe place to call our own. We’ve wanted a place free from the conflicts, bickering and chaos of the life we live.

But throughout history, no one has had it. Even the very opulent for most of history faced the outside world coming in from invasions and disease. It didn’t matter how rich or poor Germans or Japanese were in World War II: Their cities were flattened anyways.

The measure of our humanity has always been our ability to come out of the places that make us safe and do the right thing.

So we have to stop pretending that “politics” is some thing that happens every two years at elections. Life is political. We always were going to be yelled at, and going to have to yell back. If we want a world free of that, we have to earn it. We have to divert the train.

At this time in human history, the politics of how some consume, how some wage war, how some live, is changing the very nature of our atmosphere and climate. There has never been a safe space. We were never entitled to having something no one in history had, and now, those of us with privilege have to learn to treat all of this like it’s personal, because it’s going to be survival-level personal for all of us very soon.

At this time in human history, the politics of how some consume, how some wage war, how some live, is changing the very nature of our atmosphere and climate. There has never been a safe space. We were never entitled to having something no one in history had, and now, those of us with privilege have to learn to treat all of this like it’s personal, because it’s going to be survival-level personal for all of us very soon.

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