somewhere along the way i’ve begun to laugh when i see people have the “men are trash” arguments on social media every like 2-3 months. everybody blows it up, screenshots tweets, do threads, & write think pieces. & when i think about it, we do that with pretty much everything. which makes me consider: HOW are we here again? HOW do we get to where we want to be? HOW do we get to being present in communities that don’t deny the self determination of others?
i’m only able to make this observation because i’ve already experienced that season in my life. i know because at this point i’ve already written the threads, got screenshots, & wrote think pieces & then i noticed the world wasn’t changing. there is a season for everything, & there is beauty as well as destruction & unsightly suffering in the cyclical overturning of everyday life. i started to notice we were doing the same thing but somehow we aren’t doing better by one another, we don’t take care of each other, we still use one another as solely a means to an end. & then i had to sit & struggle with facing the very things i was doing & yet expecting different results.
i say this to suggest we pause & think about what we are saying & doing (as well as not saying & not doing). this is an invitation to thinking about how you are thinking, a self reflection. this is where i have come face to face with the pain, discomfort, & fear of my limitations, my short comings and i work through them.
“You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.” – Marcus Aurelius
in self reflection we come to terms with our limits, with who we are, we learn to let go of dead weight, loose ties. in self reflection we face what our limitations demand of us. self reflection is where we war with anxiety, we struggle to accept the limitations of our power. there we find wounds, discomfort, pain, the yet to heal. but there too is vulnerability, power, the coming to know of tending to wounds, how to heal, we learn to grow up, grow out of things & to continue to live (the activity of being).
“& even if the opponent is in the wrong, his error brings to light a truth, namely, that there is a place in this world for error and subjectivity; whether he is right or wrong, he triumphs; he shows that the men who are in power may also be mistaken.” – Simone de Beauvoir
this is where i learned why i needed to do better. & doing better is always a communal act. to do better means i’m aiming to improve my life which is influenced and shaped by my connections to others. to do better means to listen, to learn, to ask better questions, to pause, to not panic and fall for the temptation to over power another human being to fill our egos at the expense of others.
what forms of communication are working? what aren’t? how can we regroup? how do we teach our children and families to do better? & that sounds benevolent but it isn’t, we have to remember a commitment to doing better is a commitment to constant struggle. we are constantly struggling with ourselves & the world to project our vision of it forward. doing better a lot of the time feels like punishment. it involves a lot of learning, getting it right as well as wrong. & it’s also a reckoning, a rage, a sadness, a pain & coming to terms with what is believed to be lost in order to achieve freedom (whether for ourselves & at others’ expense or for all).
sometimes that means rethinking your strategy, how you do things, & that is a welcoming of new perspectives & the discomfort of new fields of vision & the new experiences they bring. this is where we can think of new ways (through the process of self reflection, discourse, application/execution, de-briefing, repeat) to do things, new ways to exist, new ways to plot & plan a world where our limited power is used to carry out our will (act) but not at the expense of the freedom of others.
We have to respect freedom only when it is intended for freedom, not when it strays, flees itself, and resigns itself. A freedom which is interested only in denying freedom must be denied. And it is not true that the recognition of the freedom of others limits my own freedom: to be free is not to have the power to do anything you like; it is to be able to surpass the given toward an open future; the existence of others as a freedom defines my situation and is even the condition of my own freedom. I am oppressed if I am thrown into prison, but not if I am kept from throwing my neighbor into prison.
– Simone de Beauvoir in “The Ethics of Ambiguity”
i just want us to try something different. i know i’m going to stay committed to trying to do what i can, even when i’m tired. cause no matter the hot topic or CNN Breaking News heading, I KNOW the world doesn’t have to be this way & i state that with the seriousness of a suburban middle class white woman asking to speak to your manager.
be kinder to one another please, our lives depend on it.