I don’t take pain medication for a few reasons. First, I fell out of the habit of taking pain meds for headaches when I was experiencing symptoms of the brain tumor. Second, I dislike the idea of putting chemicals in my body. It is difficult enough to avoid foods that have ingredients I can’t pronounce. As doctors could not tell me what caused the growth a cancerous tumor in the third ventricle of my brain, I try to avoid putting unfamiliar substances in my body. This is harder than it sounds. Lastly, I dislike the idea of treating a symptom. If there is a problem, pain is often the way my body tells me there is a problem. I don’t want to ignore the pain or mask it. I want to cause it to stop by causing the source of the pain to cease. With the double-vision I often experience as a result of the tumor’s affect on my brain, the ceasing of the cause of my pain may be an unreasonable expectation. still, I try. I’ve developed methods to dealing with my pain – mind over matter, ect. My vision problems cause far less pain now than they did when they first began. Never the less, pain works as a motivator to bring about change.
I am a heterosexual male of European descent, living in the United States of America. I am, as I understand it, a member of the most privileged social class here in the United States. there has been talk of a change in the population, a shift from majority to minority in the near future. Either way, as of today, there are no legitimate organizations of which I am aware that exist to promote my advancement. there are certainly organizations built around the idea that people who fall into my same socially defined groups are superior to those who belong to other groups. But these groups would seem to promote messages of hate and fear, not love. It is this hate, this fear that legitimizes groups that support the advancement of other socially defined groups. If such a hate exists, especially from the perspective of the most privileged social classes, certainly, in pursuit of justice, those with the power to do so must attempt to level the playing field, give everyone an equal chance.
This is why we have groups like the NAACP, the Human Rights Campaign, and the FORD Foundation. This is why we have things like Affirmative action. Things like Affirmative action are designed to level the playing field, to create equality in a society largely run by heterosexual males of European descent. In a system where achievement is our main unit tool for measuring merit, things like Affirmative action say “unless you are a minority”. What message does this send? What does this say about merit? To me, a socially privileged citizen of the United States, it says we don’t care as much about ability, but rather about to what socially defined class you belong.
Isn’t this the kind of ideology programs like Affirmative action are trying to counteract? If bigotry is the problem, as we suspect it is, then we need to work to end bigotry. Bigoted perspectives would seem to follow ignorance. It would seem rather easy to say one is better when we have no experience with any other. I have family members who have expressed to me perspectives that would seem unflattering of people with unfamiliar sexual identities or continents of descent. that is not to say my family is not aware of people to whom different social classes have been assigned, only that they lack experience with these people. So how do we fight ignorance?
I’ve joked that I would enjoy bringing home a homosexual AFD male. I envision my family’s discomfort and outrage. but anger won’t solve this problem. Understanding and patience will. I believe strongly that love can win out over hate or fear. We must continue to love those who hate us. We must show them we are capable of a greater humanity than they are willing to show us. again, it is hard for me, as heterosexual male of European descent to speak for those who experience racial or sexual biases in our society. Likewise, it would seem rather easy for those of us who experience hurt over these matters to take a stance of anger over love. But surely we can agree that anger often leads to more anger.
We must stop dividing ourselves over our differences. The only way to end ignorance is to expose those who hold bias perspectives to members of the social classes about which they hold negative biases. When these people understand we have much more in common than would seem to be perceived, fear and hate can be replaced with love. There are two major forms of desensitization – flooding and systematic desensitization. The first involves exposing one who has fears to representations of the object of their fears in large doses until the fear ceases. For example, if a subject is afraid of spiders, we sit him or her in a room full of spiders until he or she is no longer afraid. Although effective, the subject may become violent and will likely do what he or she can to escape the apparent threat. The second method of desensitization involves slowly exposing the subject to small doses of the object of his or her fear. For example, a person suffering from arachnophobia may just be asked to sit in a room with a picture of spider. Once he or she is comfortable doing this, he or she may be asked to sit in a room with a live spider in an aquarium. the objective may be to desensitize the subject through stages until he or she may be comfortable holding a spider.
My bringing a homosexual male of African descent home might be more like the first form of desensitization, flooding. Although it may be effective if we can stop the likely avoidance behaviors and/or angry behavior long enough to have a conversation, the insult such an act would create would likely dismiss any room for growth. So the second desensitization method would seem the only plausible route. We tend to empathize more easily with people with whom we can identify. When it becomes clear that our problems are the same, that we have similar goals and struggles, that our race is human, it will not matter the “race” or gender of those who have the ability to make decisions that affect our lives.
We must put away our fears when it comes to helping others understand this truth that we are not so very different. Fear leads to more fear. If we love these people who show fear or hate toward us, we are given the opportunity to lead by example. So love them when they hate us. Forget the idea that “us” is anymore than we want it to be. Socially defined classes are just that. The difference these classes paint are untrue to the reality that is our world. We are much more alike than we are different.
Although the motivation behind things like different organizations that promote the advancement of certain socially defined groups would seem to be noble, the idea that providing one group of people more opportunities as a result of their gender, sexuality, or continent of descent would seem to only create further division. Now I know, heterosexual males of European descent already are granted more opportunities than members of these other socially defined groups. But does a contrary double standard really level the playing field? It may be easy for a person like myself, one who would seem to belong to the major privileged social classes, to say we should stop taking the pain meds that mask the problem and start treating the problem. Programs and laws that treat the symptoms of biases and bigotry don’t often affect me personally. But treating symptoms does not cure diseases.
Programs that attempt to produce equality by providing opportunity to members of specific socially defined groups as a result of their socially defined groups not only promote a double standard, they instill in us the belief that we are so different. The truth is, we are as different as we make ourselves. So, do we want to continue to promote the idea that our arbitrary differences define who we are and of what we are capable as a result of societal inequalities or do we want to work to end the societal inequalities?
To put it simply, I’m not against anything that can provide equality, a “level playing field”, as the saying goes. I am against anything that creates a double-standard, even in an effort to right social injustices.