Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Here's a positive one just for you P! Something I wrote a while ago and posted on my other blog but it is so important to me that I have decided to post it on all my blogs, because it is something I would like everyone to read. There are things that are important to talk about. Most things, in fact. I grew up in an environment that fostered discussion, then I went to college where there was more discussion, then I went to Kenya and gained the confidence I needed to become a part of all the discussion. I don’t like to state my opinion about things until I’ve carefully analyzed and re-analyzed it, ‘til I’ve scoped out its flaws. Even then my arguments are not always strong, and are always particularly confusing and complex. I’m better in dialogue, better when I get to bounce ideas off of someone else, even when they don’t agree with me. But what I am trying to say right now is, I want to talk about things. I know “things” is vague, but that is really what I want to talk about, is about all things, I don’t want to talk about feminism or racism or religiousism (is that a word? it should be a word? I have decided to make it a word), but about everything, at once because I am so tired of all of the divisions and all of the disconnect piling on top of each other. Isn’t the point of everything, of life, connections? I don’t go to other places looking for differences. I am interested in other places, other thoughts, other ideas because I am looking for similarities. For areas where we overlap, where we connect. My whole life has been about connections, it’s really the only thing I care about when it comes down to it, and it is the thing that has propelled me in life thus far. I get myself in trouble, almost daily, for saying that I am not a feminist. As a woman, not being a feminist is problematic. Don’t I care that women, on average, get paid less than men? Don’t I care about the decisions being made about what I can and can not do with my own body? Yes. I do care. But I don’t care about these things on the basis that I am a woman. I care about these things as a human being who believes whole-heartedly in justice and fairness and balance. I care just as much about the women being underpaid as I do about the men (even if there are less of them) getting underpaid for their jobs. I don’t want to categorize myself as a feminist, because what I am really concerned about is all cases of people being slighted. There is this tendency people have (myself included) to want to speak for other people (see, I’m doing it right now, you’re all like “bullshit, I don’t have that tendency”). We can’t. For example: I know how I feel about development in third world countries, and I have talked to people who live in third world countries about how they feel about it. But even if I wrote what I thought was an accurate interpretation of their views on it, it would still be my interpretation. Does this make sense? This goes the same for writing, if I chose to, as a woman. I mean, of course I am going to write “as a woman” because I am a woman. But just because I am woman does not mean that I suddenly feel this pull and connection between myself and other women. Doesn’t mean I know what it feels like to be a woman outside of myself. But people are afraid to write about themselves. Afraid it is narcissistic, afraid that they, as a singular person are not big or important enough to be written about, feel that they must take on something bigger than themselves to give their work meaning. This applies to many forms of art, I feel. But here is what I think: You are important enough. If you write/live honestly from your own stance, people will connect with that on an individual level. Lots of people. By carefully looking at the details of each of our personal stories we will find things that we relate to, things that resonate. We will more easily be able to see the similarities. Everyone’s problems/triumphs/joys are important and valid. You don’t have to have had something “earth shattering” happen to you to have something important to say. I believe in you. I believe that you have something interesting to tell me. This is half the reason I encourage people to write letters. Because letters don’t ask too much of you, the way other forms of expression sometimes do. They just ask you to present some information about yourself to one other person, to whatever extent you are comfortable with. And people write me really really beautiful things. It seems to me that by specifically addressing feminism and racism and all those other isms we often maintain this divide between people. These characteristics aren’t even definitive. Not like the things that actually relate us to one another. Why not protest against all people receiving unfair pay, not just women? Are we not just oppressing ourselves by staying within the categories that continue to offend us? Doesn’t it seem like maybe we’re just getting distracted by these and losing sight of what’s important? What these sorts of movements do, is simplify something that is not simple. Embrace the complexities, sweets. The complexities are simple. We are all different, so different, each relationship so dynamic, so impossible to replicate. And we shouldn’t want to. We should embrace each individual connection. It’s these that will unify us. The idea that we all know what sadness feels like, what happiness feels like, and all of those complex little emotions in between. Not because we know what being a woman or a man feels like. Or what being a Kenyan or an American feels like. Or what being a black or a white person feels like. WE KNOW WHAT BEING A HUMAN FEELS LIKE. That should be enough to understand each other. I’m overly optimistic, I’ve been told. That’s probably true. But shit, I’ve got to believe, that we can all connect. I can’t think of one person I haven’t connected with, when bothering to sit down and have a one-on-one conversation with. People from all different backgrounds (aren’t we all from different backgrounds?). People I don’t agree with about a lot of things. But I’ve never really left an honest, person-to-person conversation without feeling some sort of positive connection. So I have to believe that it exists. That we can all connect, if we approach it from the smallest scale, from our daily person-to-person interactions, rather than always trying to approach it by uniting over characteristics that are so much less important than most the other things in our life. I believe in us. I believe we have it in us to understand each other, but we have to stop intimidating each other first. We have to be less offended. We have to forgive each other and then we have to talk to each other about our lives and all those little things that seem mundane but make up most of our days. We need to be a lot less afraid of each other and a little more in love with one another.