Myopia

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we, as individual human beings, can contribute to the healing of our society. It should be clear to everyone at this point that humanity has a list of existential crises that we have known about for more or less time. These situations have not yet been addressed by any of our myriad of political or economic systems as of yet, whether it be democracy, capitalism, authoritarianism or communism. These systems are, in and of themselves, tools for providing order within a society, but they have all failed to address issues like poverty, inequality, environmental disaster, climate change, racism/sexism/ablism, violence, and social/political unrest/dis-ease. Many essays have been written from the American perspective indicating that Trump was a cause of or exacerbating force to many of these issues, but I propose myopia is most likely the root cause of our current situation. We all are only able to see that which is right in front of us. What is farther away is fuzzy, unclear or even invisible.

Many of us, especially in America, have been raised to believe that the way we see the world is true, factual, the same way everyone else sees the world. This could not be further from the truth. Your individual experience and background gives you a perspective on life that is unique to you. This is a blessing and a curse. Because your perspective is unique it means you are the only one who can share your ideas with the world. But also because your perspective is unique, it is going to differ from everyone else’s perspective. And who is to say your perspective is objectively more valuable than anyone else’s?

The historical cultural prioritization of white perspectives over those of BIPOC perspectives, male perspectives over female perspectives, abled/neurotypical perspectives over disabled/neurodivergent perspectives, rich perspectives over poor perspectives has been detrimental to our ability to solve universal societal problems, regardless of how innovative we are or claim to be. Our inability or unwillingness to listen to, hear and assimilate the perspectives of people whose experience is not favored has exacerbated our cultural divides and put us in our current unenviable situation. It MUST be the priority of each and every person to perform, to the extent of their abilities, acts of kindness, grace and SERVICE toward those who are perceived as “less” or “other” than they are specifically BECAUSE of this collective myopia.

Because in the end, and COVID has put this on display in a number of ways (though not every way), if we do not all dig deep and solve these crises, we will certainly perish together. If Earth become uninhabitable, or if we fail to meet our obligations as global citizens and choose to close ourselves off from the mass immigration caused by climate change, no amount of money or education or “whiteness” will save you. If societies/democratic governments collapse into factions and dictatorships, everyone is worse off in different ways. You cannot change a culture from the top down.

What we can do is rise up, be authentic and vulnerable, present ourselves as whole people and share our stories, while also seeking to hear and understand others. The things we all have in common are immense when compared with what makes us different. We are each simultaneously a unique individual and an integral part of the whole of humanity. It’s about time we start acting like it. Hold those “above” you accountable while doing your part to elevate those who could be perceived as “beneath” you. Because really, there is no difference except perception, experience and opportunity.

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