I recently found myself in the middle of a conversation that highlighted some of the biggest problems that I have with… all of humanity. (I can’t be the only person that ponders these things?)
We were discussing GINORMOUS social issues facing society, and on almost all counts, we agreed. Until we got to a point where she said “but you can’t really have an opinion about it because it will never happen to you.” Mind you, this will be a very hard concept to explain without disclosing the details of the conversation, which aren’t necessary for proving my point.
First of all, my problem starts here; Girlfriend, this is a problem that touches everyone, so to say that my opinion is irrelevant is just ridiculous. Regardless of the issue at hand; racism, gay marriage, religion… everyone’s opinion matters. Not to mention… did we both not just sit here and recognize all of the same obstacles? Pretty sure that I’m a person too, and what I say does in fact matter.
When a social (for lack of a better word) group isolates themselves from the whole, based on the quality of their “social affliction” (still lacking better terms here) they contribute to the problem at hand, not the solution. “Well you can’t really say anything because you’re not black, you’re not gay, you weren’t a teen mother…” or whatever, this contributes nothing. You’re participating in the division, and therefore, the conflict.
Actually, I’m pretty sure that any potential resolution would require significant effort from the members of “the outside,” the people that you claim “can’t possibly understand.” Drawing a line in the sand between the people that “understand” and the people that “never will” contributes to the polarization we both just agreed that we so wish to change.
You need to find a common ground with the people who think differently than you do, with people who disagree, or in this case, people who do agree. Don’t contribute to the boundaries, the lines, don’t pull back from the conversation for fear that someone might not understand. Because in reality, no one will understand, and yet, everyone will.
Being misunderstood is a part if life, that doesn’t mean that prejudice has to be. And it’s not the same thing. Making somebody else’s struggle seem smaller in the shadow of yours doesn’t bring light to either of you. Just because I will never experience something the same way that you experience it, does not mean that I don’t understand it.
Come together, John Lennon style. Don’t retract deeper and deeper into the seclusion of what you think makes you different. Don’t assume the “others” will never get you. Close the gap.