Intentions make little difference. They cannot soften the blows after they’ve been dealt. They cannot repair a wound, or undo the damage caused.
Our abusers teach us that we have no autonomy. And society tells us that they were right. We’re messed up now, we’re broken, and we need fixing, so people will decide they will fix us, no matter what we say. Because we’re not people, we’re not “normal” enough to make responsible choices for ourselves. Only the normal, undamaged people get that.
I think that our society, still so saturated in Christian morals, has allowed people to believe something that is largely incorrect, and that is that it is perfectly okay to have a worldview. I loathe the idea of a “Biblical Worldview” that I was always taught, because of course, only Real True Christians® believe the “Biblical Worldview” which is why we can determine your salvation on your politics and personal values.
But beyond that – this societal idea that personal philosophies and ideologies can be and have every right to be extended to everyone and everything. I’m not talking about things like “everyone deserves to be loved, and have food, and shelter” because those are noble beliefs, but when they veer into “everyone deserves love and food and shelter on my own terms and only if they meet my requirements for that kind of love and food and shelter.”
Taking your experiences, your reactions to the world, and believing that those are universal (or should be universal) for everyone and everything is one dang arrogant belief system.
Our world is defined by the communities we inhabit (and no, mission trips do not count because they are their own brand of fetishizing, self-centered, racist, dehumanizing fucked-up things). Our world is the friends we know, the places we go, the things we’ve experienced, and for most of us, that is a very small dot in one small corner of the world. And with that small, limited, personal understanding, we consider it perfectly reasonable to decide the entire way the world functions, everyone’s experiences, and how other’s should handle their life.
To give an example, right now I’ve been snarking the tweets that quote the book Captivating. Because I had to live with those ideas growing up, both Captivating and Wild at Heart were books my former pastor wanted everyone to read. And the Eldredges have such fascinating words of wisdom such as this:
That a group of women and a group of men who fit traditional ideas of gender roles could carry their perspective of themselves over to all people for all time is probably the epitome of arrogance – but it’s always done. Or my former friend, who would take everything she did as a sign of “well us girls are just like this!” and then stopped being my friend because I wouldn’t conform to those roles. And this is considered perfectly reasonable – to just erase the plethora of different experiences and perspectives and decide that who you are, is who everyone is and should be.
And this is everywhere. It’s just easy not to see when the ideologies and philosophies are things that match your life too.
But it’s the people who have the most opportunity to speak are ones who usually have the benefit of most of the world’s advantages to do so, the privilege of being societally-approved. The ones that can believe that if you just worked hard, you can do anything, that honesty always wins (and doesn’t make other people destroy you) that if you just let go and forgive it solves all your problems, if you just diet and exercise you can cure the incurable, if you just go to therapy, they’ll magically produce a normal version of you because everyone wants to be normal, and if they don’t, that’s a sign that there’s something too wrong with them to realize how imperative it is that they be normal. That you should just get over your anger, because really, I mean, they get over their anger about the things they don’t experience, so why can’t you?
And I’ve had to deal with that. Not all of that – I have my own privileges in this world that protect me. But what I do deal with is the price I pay for being open about my life. People want to help, but they don’t listen, they don’t understand, because they’ve decided what that help is, what I need, regardless of the things I’ve said. This hiatus was the cause of one very terrible “helper” of mine who made my life extremely unsafe by basically ignoring every last thing I have ever written in favor doing a societal-approved way of “helping” the poor, PTSD-ridden survivor.
The best way to dehumanize someone while claiming you’re not is to believe you are just the same. You erase their experiences and perspective, their struggles and obstacles, their unique way of having to deal with those things in a world that also erases them. With the words, “but humans are humans” or the bullshit dramatics of “we all bleed red” normal people can simply pretend that if we all did things the way they did, then everything would work out okay. But, yes, we all bleed red but you don’t treat a papercut the same way you treat a gash, you don’t treat an infected wound the same way you treat one that isn’t, you don’t treat a wound to the leg the same way you treat a wound to the gut. You are not acknowledging someone’s personhood when you ignore the very things that make their lives different than yours, and when you refuse to understand that their circumstances have given them their own perspective that is just as valid as yours. More valid in fact – their perspective about their experiences that you haven’t been through is far more valid than anything you could ever think about it.
And deciding you know best what to do for another person is telling them that they do not have rights to their life and autonomy. And I doubt the same people who believe their worldviews and their ideologies, would wish for the same – considering that my mere presence makes these very same people angry, because they have decided that their life is defined by how much they can define mine and others.
If your philosophy and worldview says that you and your perspective are the defining points for all of humanity, you may want to reconsider. Because you may be held up as an example of wisdom and brilliance in your own circle of societally acceptable people, but the people whose lives you intrude, define, and erase, will not consider you such. At best, you are an ignorant, arrogant, dangerous asshole. No matter what you think your intentions are – especially since “good” intentions can never be good when they involve ignoring the person and autonomy of someone, and refusing to listen to the things they’ve said about their life and experiences.
You will accept me as the crazy, angry, bitter, unforgiving, blunt, harsh, unyielding, stupid, ugly, messy, fucked-up badass sky storm, who rejects all of societal definitions of good and moral and smart and defies categories in identities you didn’t even know someone could defy categories in, you will accept me, and my perspective about my life, and you will respect my decisions about what I do with that life regardless of whether you think it best, or you cannot claim to care on iota about me, not even on a “I care about everyone” level.
Us fucked-up people don’t need a savior and we don’t need to be fixed by anyone’s definition but our own. We need respect.