On listening

Will the ideals you defend today stand the test of time? Are you on the right side of history? Are you trying to give people freedom or take it away from them through oppression, false propaganda, and taking advantage of the power imbalances in the places you have a voice because of your demographics, what position in society you were born into, what bubble you call your own?

Why is it so easy for a middle class Indian immigrant to defend an “Indian Kashmir” from afar, for a white American couple to defend the actions of Trump, for a Hindu prime minister to spread lies about demonetization having an effect on “Pakistani black money”, for a billionaire white man to restrict a free press, for a fake newspaper to spread lies about “love jihad”, for a white press secretary to spread lies about Islamic terrorism? For an Indian American man raised in a community where he was able to get ahead to extrapolate that that must be the experience of an African American too? For men to tell their housewives in the 1910s that they don’t need suffrage, for women to wait 50 years after African American men got it, because false propaganda claimed that “90% of women either do not want it or do not care.” (Sounds a little like the current POTUS’s false estimates on various situations…)

Source: The Atlantic, 2012

For one woman in the 70s…or today… in the US to proclaim that we have “enough” rights when another woman doesn’t feel that way, and the statistics show we don’t have equal rights. For another woman now in India to proclaim she doesn’t want to go out at night so who cares what safety is like, she doesn’t need to be out at that time anyway, while another one wants to, or needs to be – for her livelihood, for her desire. Why is it that you think that what is enough for you is enough for another person living in another situation?

I’ve been thinking: we need to check our privilege, yes, but we need to check our voices, too. Who are we to speak for others who are out there speaking for themselves? Maybe we just need to listen for a little while, and amplify the voices of those who are already speaking for themselves.


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