Love of other versus love and respect

I had always been proud to be a liberal and a democrat until the 2016 election. The more I learned about politics and how it intersected with other interests that I have, I came to an interesting conclusion. There is a very peculiar type of objectification that takes place amongst the left leaning people who have power or still haven’t been hit as hard by the economy. The love of the other is, on the surface, something nice or even to be encouraged. You shouldn’t allow another person’s differences guide your attitudes or feelings. However, when you make it a part of who you are politically, to make sure that you are helping people specifically because of these differences it can, I think have unfortunate consequences. The idea of the benevolent racist is also applicable here. The movie Get Out was a brilliant look at how that a softer kinder version of objectification was not actually any better. It presumes to know and care about someone based on some unifying difference that belong to all of a specific disadvantaged group. It may, most of the time come from the best of intentions. I do think that many people do have the best intentions and are baffled when they are given feedback about being insensitive to certain things. It comes across as, simply patting yourself on the back for being open-minded and taking the time to help a group of people who are hurting. But it isn’t done for the person in question, it is done to soothe their own self-esteem and self-perception. Just the act of speaking and acting regardless of what the outcome is, is seen as being pro- minority and for some people, they believe this is what makes them better than people who legitimately are racist or even people who don’t try to help marginilized groups. I have had my own hardships but I have also been very lucky. I have not had many struggles that many others who are my age have had. However, I am also not where I want to be right now and that makes me sad. But I can reflect and take solace in knowing that one of my experiences may help strengthen my thoughts in written form on this issue. I remember how heartbreaking it was, when  i was sent to a special school away from all my classmates. My learning disability and my own brain chemistry was making my parents worry about me getting the right support. However, this good intention had an unfortunate side effect. It internalized some negative feelings I felt about myself. I understood I was different and that I had issues. But I both resented it and was reluctant to come to terms with the idea that I might need support. This combined with my lack of social skills snowballed and I began to build a wall around myself. The very real needs that I had, were not things  I could see or value, and to me I just felt resentful and hurt. It made me feel broken and like I couldn’t have self-respect. It created a self-contradiction in my own mind. I both needed and hated the things that I needed. I resented the idea that I needed so much validation but knew I needed it. I didn’t get it from my peers and I wasn’t able to see how I effected others. You may say, you were immature so what? Well I would very much just like to say that, the intention behind the decision to give me that support, was very good. But it created both positives and negatives. Can you foresee all of them? Probably not but it is a good idea to understand that true respect and love for marginilized groups is not simply just catering to their interests or spending time giving them extra lip service and attention just because of those differences. In fact, the real goal should be, treating them like anybody else. This does NOT mean you don’t acknowledge societal and structural factors that promote cultures that might hurt these groups. But a good way to fight those might be to start from our shared humanity. Treating people with the respect they deserve means also, treating them like you would anybody else. This may sound simple and like it can be very misleading, but, I would argue you say a lot of yourself when you treat someone with basic respect and for actual human connection, you see what they personally, have in their personality or values, that you admire. This is far more inclusive. You can challenge these narratives and challenge bigotry without speaking exclusively in the language of difference. What unites us can be class issues, or cultural issues, or shared goals. Challenging self-congratulatory narratives, like American exceptionalism, is a good start. Capitalism is an example of a system that divides people. It makes you only worry about yourself and about competing against everyone else. This happens while the upper classes use their own solidarity to crush everyone else. Divisive narratives are not simply matters of one race or one marginilized groups. It is a matter of choosing to use differences as political. Differences can be important but if these differences are the only things you see, you are doing it wrong. Acknowledge your shared humanity and their differences from you. Try to learn from them and have the humility to be vulnerable sometimes. Accepting your weaknesses and your strengths, might  be the best thing you can do for yourself.

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