I don’t like to get political in this space. Now if you happen to be on my personal Facebook list you know I’m not afraid to get into just about anything over there. But this space is different. I mostly try to be positive and it’s not often that I write about subjects that are divisive or overtly controversial. But I am going to go there, just a little bit, today.
This post isn’t really about politics although most certainly it is fuelled by current issues of politics and policies. Right now, literally right now this second, there are a lot of people feeling a lot of things, many of them negative. People are frightened. People are sad. People are confused and hurt. The climate at the moment is unsettling. We don’t know from one day to the next, even one hour to the next, what new decree is going to come down that changes things up yet again. It’s a scary place to be in.
Now as I type this I assure you that I know that I am oozing with privilege. And I do know the demographics of my readers so most (certainly not all) of you come from a place of privilege that is on par with me. And I know, I know there are people who automatically get riled up and defensive when you talk about privilege and suggest they have it. And generally it’s because those people don’t really understand what that means. When people point out your privilege it’s not meant to be an insult. It doesn’t mean you don’t work hard, that you haven’t overcome hard times or adversity. It doesn’t mean that at all. It’s about your starting point. Let’s say you take 5 kids at the pool and challenge them to a race. Assume all these kids are competent swimmers. Now take one of those kids and strap a two pound weight to each of his ankles. Every one of the kids in the race work hard. They do their very best. They all finish. The kid with the weights finishes last, even though he worked just as hard and is just as good a swimmer as any of the other kids in the race. The privilege of the the four kids without the ankle weights is pretty obvious isn’t it? I’m not going to go on and on about privilege because honestly there are other people out there that can explain it much better. But it is relevant to what I am going to say next.
“It’s going to be ok.” This is something you might say to your 3 year old that just dropped their ice cream cone on the floor at Dairy Queen. It is not, however, what you say to an adult who is expressing their outright fear at things that are happening in the world around them. And that is especially true if you come from a different place of privilege than they do. Because everything might very well be ok for you. That doesn’t make it so for everyone. I know that a lot of the time people really say words like that with the very best of intentions. I mean it’s motherly right? But sometimes it really just isn’t the most helpful thing to say. Instead of “It’s going to be ok” try something else. Something as simple as “I’m listening.” Those are very powerful words. They aren’t dismissive. They aren’t patronising. And after you say I’m listening then please, please actually do it. Listen. We all have a lot to learn. Each and every one of us. And this is how you do it. It’s not by saying, it’s going to be ok, or give the guy a chance, or it’s not that bad. Because for some people, yes, it really IS that bad. Because they feel it is. And they are telling you that’s how they feel. And that means something.