Shawn Maxam says we all have to step down from our high horses before we can really see eye to eye.
Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.
-Frank Lloyd Wright
I acknowledge that I am a walking paradox and a breathing contradiction. Not all of my politics and beliefs are completed intergrated. I’m not sure they ever will be. A few examples include the following:
I support marriage equality and believe that the LGBT community deserves exactly the same rights as the heteronormative community. I love my sister who is a lesbian and my other relatives who are in Queer relationships. But I still get a bit queasy when I see two men kissing. I know part of this is conditioning but I still own my uncomfortable reactions. I try to make sure my discomfort doesn’t cloud my judgment and belief in equity and equality.
I fully support equal pay for women, maternal and paternal leave, abolishing gender norms that oppress men and women and systems of patriarchy that promote male privilege. But I still don’t want my wife riding in cars with men I don’t know, I still feel discomfort with her having friendships with men I don’t know and I still don’t “trust” her regarding certain physical labor tasks. All of that is bullshit prejudice and baggage that I carry and own. I know intellectually it is wrong and that it is antiquated thinking yet I have to acknowledge the existence of those thoughts and feelings.
Often I have conversations with progressive white people who support social justice and racial equality but they never admit their own internal racial prejudice. Why do you live in predominantly white neighborhoods? When you walk past a group of young Black males do you have feelings of fear? Maybe you don’t but I know a lot of white people who do. Shit I myself feel fearful sometimes as well and I’m a young Black man. Fortunately I am also afraid of the cops as well. So it evens out I guess (that last-line was tongue-in-cheek folks)
I just used the past few examples to show that we can become so obessesed with our own self-rightouness that we approach conversations with judgemental tones and an inability to acknowledge that all of us have personal work to engage in to help us become better men and women. We are all working towards a place of growth, self-improvement, love and empathy.
Instead of finishing the marathon of self-actualization and going back to to cheer-on our fellow participants it feels like we want congratulate ourselves for finishing the race before everyone else and to also berate the people who just started or are only in the beginning of their own journey.
This discussion I’m having is mainly referring to doing work that is steeped in self-exploration that will lead to each of us being better human beings and thus a better society.
People who don’t have the intention to have healthy dialogues aren’t the people I am referring to. I give every reader of For Shawnel and The Good Men Project the benefit of being a good person worthy of respect until they prove me wrong.
I think we can be passionate and emphatic. Understanding and uncomfortable. Helpful and challenging. I don’t think we get to where we want to go just by yelling from own respective soapboxes. We can’t change the world if we can’t be honest about our flaws and mistakes. Let’s continue to foster safe spaces for expression and vulnerability.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
Thanks for reading, sharing and commenting!
Image via Look at my Happy Rainbow