Dishonest conversations

I’ve heard a few different arguments against using the word ‘privilege’ in my discussions.

In recent years I have tried to take other people’s word at face value, to guard against too heavily projecting my own ideas. I’ve trained myself, even when I know they’re not giving me the truth, and especially when I know they don’t even know they’re not giving me the truth, just to operate as if I believe them anyway, to give them a chance to prove my assumptions wrong.

That was an important part of my personal development, but I’m gonna have to start delving into some subtext more often, because people are fucking BULLSHITTING right now.

It’s almost always very privileged people bullshitting most about privilege. Go fucking figure, eh?

I come from an unequivocally working class background. I don’t fit in there really, but it is where I’m from, it has shaped me irrevocably, and I know some things about that place. Working class people are pretty likely to give it to you straight why they don’t like the idea of privilege. They’ve had to grind for everything they’ve got. If they can manage to get by, it’s because they fucking earned it. Everybody else should too. Don’t fucking talk to them about privilege. They don’t have it.

Middle class people are the ones who are going to say “Yes, I know I’m very privileged” in that politically correct way that doesn’t reach their eyes. But, the truth is, most of them are thinking exactly the same thing as the working class people are thinking – “I earned all this shit I’ve got. I deserve it.” They know it’s generally socially unacceptable to to say that when there are so many people struggling, so they pay lip service to their ‘privilege’. But deep down they have to keep believing that this is a fair world where, if you work hard and are a good person, you’ll be alright. And the reason they have a good life is because they work hard and are a good person.

People think that if they acknowledge that other people face barriers that they don’t face it will diminish their entitlement to what they have. Whether it does or not probably depends on what exactly they are claiming ownership of. But either way the discomfort of that possibility is what prevents them from looking at it. So they will say what they have to say so that they don’t have to look at it. And it will never reach their eyes.

As long as people keep doing that – having dishonest converstions about privilege – we’re going to be stuck with a world of inequality.

As within, so without

When I was younger, the primary focus of all my desire was romantic love. I would happily turn my life upside down, and myself inside out, in pursuit of it. I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t so important to everyone else. I assumed they were missing something.

I was the one missing something – hoping endlessly that romantic love would fill the void where this missing piece should reside.

I suffered under that misguided notion for a couple of decades (I started very young). Eventually I figured out what I really needed to do, which was, essentially, learn to love myself.

And then I could soften my focus. I turned my attention to health. And then to wealth. And looking back, I can see I’ve been filling in missing pieces in order of importance, without even realising what I was doing. I was not always very effective in my endeavours, but there was something very wise at play urging me toward wholeness.

At this stage of my life, I am grateful to genuinely feel my greatest desire is to contribute. I deeply desire to be of service in the best way I can be. It’s not a sense of obligation, but a sense of inspiration, excitement, compulsion, to find the best path to enact positive change. I haven’t exactly found the path yet, and I’m not exactly healed yet, but the difference is stark from where I used to be.

It has pretty much convinced me that changing the world for the better is, first and foremost, an inside job. We all need to do our own work to fix our broken and missing pieces, before we can fully come together and do the collective work of fixing the mess all of our pains and traumas have created.

That’s a frustrating truth that many would argue with, but I set my sights high when I think about changing the world, and I can’t see a reality where we don’t create a world in our own image.

There are a whole lot of messes that need fixing right now, so we’re going to have to make do with some broken pieces in the meantime. The point is not to lose sight of the inner work amongst the outer work. Because to get the real traction that’s required to tackle our big fucking problems, we need more whole people showing up.

Ideas lying dormant

I have all kinds of good ideas for things I could do to progress my life, improve myself, and create what I desire. It should be noted that they come from the extensive amount of time I spend studying and exploring such topics, rather than some innate wellspring of inspiration, but that’s beside the point.

I act on maybe a handful from every pile. Because most of them require more courage than I care to exert. They would require me to step far enough outside of expectations that I’d feel very exposed. And often I just don’t feel like I have the energy to process that additional discomfort. Because, from experience, it takes a lot of bandwidth. So I watch myself, in real-time, making sub-par but safe decisions. And I have a conversation with myself about how I should choose the braver option, and yes I know I should, but I’m not going to, no, I’m not going to, and that’s going to mean I still don’t step more fully into who I should be, and I know that, but I’m still not going to do it, I’m afraid not, but one day I’m going to have to do it, yes, and I could just choose to do it today, I could, but I won’t, no, oh well, oh well.

Virtuous qualities cannot be installed overnight. And courage is probably the weightiest of all virtues. I get that this is a long term investment. But I do wonder how much use it is observing this disparity. I know growth often comes in fits and spurts – long periods battling immoveable objects that suddenly dematerialise – and I guess that’s what I’m hoping for, and in some sense putting my trust in. There’s usually a key to unlocking such a miracle, though. So am I hunting hard enough?

To give or to hold

Things usually aren’t working out as well as we were hoping.

Especially the big bad things. The things that we’ve been toiling over trying to make a dent in for what seems like millennia. The things that are worth changing, but fuck, if only we’d known what we were signing up for.

If we didn’t have hope, there’s a good chance we’d have given up long before now. But if we didn’t have hope, we’d be less heartbroken to realise that that light we see at the end of the tunnel, well it isn’t actually getting any closer.

In those moments when we realise we’re still far from home, we have two choices. We can relinquish any lingering hope of ever getting home, and live out here in the wasteland instead. Or we can steel ourselves, double down on the effort and march onwards, holding our vision of home in our hearts.

To those living out in the wasteland, a bright homely heart will look like insanity. I don’t know if there’s anything to be done about that.

What to do?

I have been lost in nebulous theory lately.

The theory of what is happening right now. The theory of what needs to be done. The theory of what I need to do.

I work best with concrete to-do lists. And to formulate those, I need space and time set aside to gather myself, sort out the tangle, and organise it into neat actionable words. So overwhelming have these past few weeks been, that I have instead defaulted to whirlwind scrawl on every scrap of paper that passes me by. I’m saving countless Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Instagram screenshots, websites, books and podcasts for later with little to no thought for indexing. I’ve been hoping that I’ll settle down soon, without any kind of plan for how that will happen.

I’ve been lost because my goals cannot yet be fully defined. And so, like everything else, my metrics remain theoretical. I have been taking action; grabbing at things when the moment arises, and sometimes even spending time seeking out the action. But without the distilled knowledge of theory, action is weak.

I need to keep visiting the Theory Nebula. My work is most certainly not done there. But the part I have been missing recently – the disconnect – has been organising what I’ve learned into something I can use.

To-do lists are basically self-care for me. I need to get on that.