Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Talking Across Borders ?

We face what I would call "cultural divides" in our views of much of reality nearly every day at least in our lives. Such divides may include things such as:

1.) Religion - in our lives - "Conservative Activist Christian" vs. "Liberal 'Accepting' Jewish/ Christian/ Agnostic/ Atheist/ Muslim (etc.)"

2.) Political - "Liberal/Radical" vs. "Conservative"

3.) Economic Perspective - "Business/Capitalist" vs. "Egalitarian/Socialist"

4.) White/Heterosexual/Upper-Middle Class vs. "Not" (People of Color/Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/ Non-Middle Class)

5.) Male vs. Female

for example.

Increasingly we are divided into sub-parts of groups or simply identifying ourselves in different ways such as: "Christian" or "Not" - whether that means "Non-Christian" or simply not identifying with a perspective on religion as it may be seen to affect far more than our religious preferences.

I have to think before I open my mouth in some circumstances. I often presume, for example, that people are "sensible" e.g. - are "Anti-Bush" in political outlook. Obviously, my own biases affect what I see as "normal". There are, of course, people who are intelligent and sensible and who believe in a conservative outlook that is highly alien to my political beliefs.

How do we talk - With - those who are different from ourselves in important ways rather than talking At or Around them? How can we respect others and ourselves and really hear the concerns and fears and interests of others when they are different from what we believe in?

It isn't easy - of course! My sense is that those of us "on the left", "feminist", etc. - have often failed to reach others who might share some of what we believe in. Why we've failed is interesting to try to look at. Clearly, others have at times played on the deep fears of others. My sense though is that we've often (realistically) been seen as elitist and insensitive to what concerns many people have.

In the U.S. - conservative Republicans - have often succeeded in dividing and conquering the political opposition. Democrats - are squeezed between being "to the left" - which is often marginalized by others or as being "like Republicans" - hence - why not pick the "real thing".

While we can complain about the Major Media and others, we, in the end, need to really reach others and make them see that feminism isn't about "hating men" and that anti-feminist outlooks have hurt and continue to hurt men, women and children.

Obviously, White people in the US who purport to be: "anti-racist" often have not really built up meaningful alliances with People of Color. One important area now in the US relates to how we relate to the soldiers and families of the soldiers who are in Iraq and elsewhere.

There aren't a lot of easy answers I see beyond "doing the work" and living our lives in honest, caring ways. Clearly we need to do better at understanding and accepting others whose issues are different from ours. We don't have simple unifying issues which remain important year after year - as environmentalists, feminists, gay/lesbian/bi/transgender activists, anti-racism focussed people etc. need to support each other and learn from each other.

Hopefully we'll increasingly find ways to work together as well as playing together and being happy and positive despite things that are scary and difficult for us.


1 comment:

thinking girl said...

what a great post geo! I have often felt that while I try my best to consider carefully every argument that someone presents me in a serious way, it is a difficult proposition, and it is also difficult to cajole others into treating my arguments with the same respect. I think there is always a danger of being condescending and pedantic when talking about one's views to people who don't agree, and that can be hard to overcome if we aren't sensitive to it and careful about how we choose to frame our arguments.

thanks, your posts are always so great and make me think!