I woke up this morning with the word "Disarm" floating into my consciousness, and it wasn't in relation to ongoing concern of the militarization of civilians and mass shootings that continue to threaten and devastate our communities. (That's a whole other blog post). No, I was thinking about how people of privilege, power, and entitlement, myself included, need to disarm ourselves emotionally when we hear of people's experiences that may criticize, question, or threaten our unearned privilege. We need to listen, accept, and reflect on how we move through the world as white, heteronormative, cisgenered, male, or able bodied people. We need to listen and not clap back on someone's Facebook post or tweet just because we feel attacked--when we feel like someone is calling us racist, sexist, or homophobic. Because, chances are that if you have that urge to leave a comment that begins with "But", you are those things you fear. It's time to own it--to recognize how we have benefited from social constructions that are designed to benefit a few of us while causing pain, suffering, and death for everyone else. It's time to listen and recognize ourselves as oppressors and colonizers, and in truly recognizing ourselves, we can make changes in our thinking, our behavior, our interactions with others, and in creating new pathways of interaction, we can design new constructions or no constructions that humanize everyone. And if we do that, we just might earn our humanity back. So, next time you feel like someone is threatening your privilege, don't be a hedgehog and roll into a spiky ball. Put down your pokey barbs, make yourself vulnerable and own the suffering for which you are responsible. Disarm yourself.
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.