I am starting to see some patterns in some of the “normal” white people I follow on Twitter and elsewhere. The narrative goes something like ‘Has anyone else started to feel a little guilty about XYZ?’ These statements reflect recent revelations about race, gender/pay inequities, or even autism. Like it NEVER occurred to these people that other people’s experiences of life and interactions with others and the world were any different than their own, nevermind that those differences might indicate something that they could learn from, rather than fear and suppress. This concept is astounding to me.
I have spent my entire life trying to explain to myself and justify why other human beings I observed always seemed SOOOOO self-absorbed. Like they weren’t also observing the world as they traveled through it as I did. I thought how unencumbered they must be from having to think about, or even FEEL the effect they are having on all other sentient and non-sensient beings at all times. I felt like I learned something new every day from how I engaged with the world, observing, and yet every day, someone would try to make me believe my perspective wasn’t as good as theirs, that I was the weirdo, that I should be thinking more about my appearance, money and getting ahead (whatever that means).
I could not, and still cannot, imagine an existence where I don’t think about each waking breath I take and how the air I breathe has previously inhabited the lungs of every other organism that breathes. It is the same air! Every time I get into my car, I think about what my effect is on that air that we all breathe. I think about the water I drink and how it has been drunk by others before for millennia, swam in by sharks and now polluted by microplastics. I see/feel/think about the effects of my daily living constantly.
So now others may be starting, just barely, to see that their perspective is not the only perspective. Feeling guilty is the first step on a long journey. Whether any of these people will further evolve into people who will, at the very least, be more grateful for what they have and begin to reevaluate their relationship to the outside world, I don’t know, but it is a start, and I’m down for it. The world needs us to care deeply, after all the things we’ve done, building all our systems of extraction, basing our economy and structures of money and power upon who can wring the most out of their environment. When we, as a culture, decided that money and power were the only things worth fighting for, we fucked up. That is the essential lie and we need more people to see another perspective before it is too late.