Divide And Conquer: Somebody’s Gotta be the Bad One

The truth is we can always find common ground, we just have to want to. We all want freedom, we all want peace, we all want to be able to feed our children, we all want to be able to walk the streets in safety. So, where does it always go wrong? The answer is simple: when we categorize and generalize other people into groups in order to simplify our feelings and justify our choices. But we aren’t our labels and nobody is just “one of them.”

Injustice and Blame

Injustice is painful. Systemic injustice is devastating. It is easy for apathy to turn to rage when the opportunity arises. Unless you have walked a hundred miles in those shoes, you should reserve judgment. This doesn’t mean we condone violent behavior, but we must not ignore the context from within which it arises – ever.

A victim yearns to find someone to blame in order to regain a sense of control. Can we find just a little understanding in our hearts? Enough to direct us away from disgust, intolerance, and self-righteousness? And everyone can be a victim, but pissing contests don’t lead to solutions.

Violence, Riots, and Chaos

In Chiapas the streets were also on fire, like in Minneapolis, LA and the rest. I do not judge the protestors who became violent, although I believe what they were doing is wrong. People are starving, they cannot feed their children. Their fear and helplessness begins to consume them. Emotions overtake reason. Or do you believe their rage manifested out of thin air? The volcano has been rumbling long enough.

For everyone that sits on their throne and passes judgment, I ask you: “What have you done to help those who are enraged? What have you done to prevent things from reaching this tipping point? And don’t tell me you pay taxes toward their entitlements. I’m asking you what have you done? Human to human. What change have you made? What solutions have you thought of and pursued? Or did you just stock up on toilet paper and scream vitriol on Facebook while you ate your organic quinoa?

If you haven’t taken concrete action to help your fellow human being, then you have not known them. If you haven’t seen how they eat and provide healthcare for their children, you simply judge from a distance someone you know nothing about. They are human, but you forget. You choose to forget because it is easier for you. Hate is self-gratifying, whereas empathy – in any and every circumstance – is hard work. We have enough victims in the world. True heroism is transcending that label.

Labels, Groups, and the Loss of Identity

Labels and groups can be forces for good, but if we lose the identities of each individual that comprises them, it’s just an easy way to simplify something complex to the point of absurdity. It becomes a means of finding justifications to support what we want. Choosing evidence to support our argument while ignoring the rest. I see this everywhere these days. Unity for change becomes division for castigation.

Solutions Instead of Justifications

Speaking as a woman of comparable privilege, I say that if you haven’t taken action to ease the suffering of the abandoned, I don’t want to hear about your pains of reverse discrimination. When you fear the wave of the enraged trampling your privileges, I ask you this: “Have you shared your spoils? Have you reached out your hand to offer support to the needy? Have you done anything to assuage the suffering of those less fortunate than you?” That takes real courage and moral fortitude.

I believe that chaos and rage is inevitable under these circumstances. And yes, we must do our best to ensure stability and peace. But meeting this righteous anger with hatred and judgment serves nothing but your own ego. Where are your solutions? Not for yourself, but for the original cause of this trauma. What have you done to ease the injustices in the world? Have you even taken the time to ponder solutions? Or is it their problem – until it knocks at your door?

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Vanessa Hylande

Life is a dance for which we write the music

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