*** Note from the editor: this is an edited article, originally written by David Bone for his blog The Out of Touch Unionist***
Are you oppressed? Has the jackboot of oppression stomped on your neck? Have state agents questioned your life choices and thrown you into the back of an unmarked van? Do you yearn to break free of your chains?
If you answered ‘yes’ to the above paragraph, I would suggest that you go and have a nice warm beverage and if you are fortunate enough to live a state with a reasonable degree of freedom, drink it while wistfully gazing out of the window, gently uttering the words ‘I ‘am not oppressed, I ‘am not oppressed.’
Along with the tea, I hope you imbibe a sense of perspective and ready yourself for a hard truth. No one cares about your life choices. As long as you keep your head down, take responsibility for your behaviour, uphold the values of civilisation and conform to some basic levels of decency in certain prescribed circumstances, no one cares.
We are all equal in the eyes of Themis, the Greek Goddess of Justice. So much so, that she is often portrayed blindfolded. The governing philosophy of many nations across the globe operate on this principle.
May I suggest that what you are suffering from is prejudice from your fellow citizens. This might be wrong, but it’s probably unavoidable. If prejudice is embedded in the culture it could take decades to expunge it from society. And let’s all be honest, we hate as well as love. I expect we all dislike a particular societal clique, or sub-culture, even if it’s illogical. Prejudice can be an insidious phenomenon, which can, on occasion, permeate state and social structures. It’s wrong, but it is still not oppression.
The fact is that most people aren’t really ‘anti’ against your lifestyle choices. It’s more accurate to say that they are ‘pro’ something. For example, many Christians don’t agree with same-sex marriage. Does this mean that they are against homosexuality? Not necessarily. They just believe in the sanctity of marriage and that it should be between a man and a woman. It should be noted that they also have the right to hold this view as well.
If we start down the path of restricting speech who dictates what is allowed to be said? Who is to be the arbiter of this? As Mick Hume, author of Trigger Warning states, people now use the term ‘denier’ in the same way they used to use ‘witch’; as an insult and a tactic to silence debate and investigation.
Also, dear reader, I don’t know about you but I’m also far too busy for prejudice, let alone oppression. I get up in the morning, go to work, come back, read, write, watch some TV and then go to bed. Repeat this Monday to Friday. This leaves almost no time in my day to even vaguely consider people who have the same rights and legal protection as me, but somehow consider themselves to be an oppressed minority.
There is now a new breed of simpering social justice warrior who considers it oppression whenever a political decision or vote takes place that they didn’t like. It’s not oppression. It’s democracy. YouTube is full of people who claim that they are a ‘free inhabitant of the earth’ who seem to have trouble grasping the idea of national sovereignty and refuse to hand over a driving license to a Police Officer. Of course, the consequence of this is that a minor misdemeanour unnecessarily escalates into a major infraction, distressing all those present and wasting taxpayers’ money.
Most of us also find it difficult to oppress anyone, as we don’t have the entire apparatus of the state behind us: police forces, judiciary, prison camps etc. You know, all those things that most non-democratic and totalitarian regimes have used to actually oppress people since we first discovered agriculture in the Fertile Crescent.
Trouble is, if you start to see yourself as a victim, it permeates your entire identity; you start to become one. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy with dangerous consequences. It gets to the point that nothing short of 100% acceptance will do.
All of this is partly enabled and hugely exacerbated by social media and the miniaturisation of technology. Ten years ago, I couldn’t have filmed the police for ‘evidence’ of oppression, nor could I have buried myself in the insular world of social media, where I could further indulge my often nonsensical views with the like-minded.
Today, if you are free to think, do, and live as you see fit, provided you don’t break the law, you should be extraordinarily grateful. Fight prejudice, as long as it is safe to do so. Be yourself most of the time, but remember that on occasion you may have to conform to societies demands as well.
Featured image | Oppression | Paul Conlan | flickr
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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