It might surprise you to know that 99% of humans on this planet right now, if they dig deep enough, will realize they all want the same thing.
We all want world peace. Radical equality. Prosperity and security for everybody.
Our nature isn’t greedy or hateful. If we were meant to be stealing, killing machines, evolution wouldn’t have turned us the way we are now–extremely vulnerable bags of flesh and bone and squishy organs you can easily pierce with a sharp piece of wood or metal.
We were meant to trust.
We were meant to be kind.
We were meant to love one another, despite the fact that we all share very different views of the world.
The problem isn’t that one view is better than the other.
The problem is when one person or one group insists that their view is better than the rest.
The killing and the stealing and the hating don’t come as a result of having one view. It comes as a result of having the view that your view is the only correct view.
This is how world wars get started.
When white people think their race is superior to others.
When Western countries think modern civilizations are better than other cultures.
When religious extremists insist their god is the only god. (And yet, if their god is the only god, then that god wouldn’t even need defending at all.)
When governments take a dictatorial stance.
And, crazily enough, you find the same stubborn insistence on the superiority of one’s worldview as you slide down the other side of the oppression-privilege spectrum.
You find it in revolutionists accusing bystanders of being traitors.
In social media activists shaming others to speak up for their cause.
In keyboard warriors bullying strangers on the Internet for being “part of the problem” whichever way they turn.
In the end, is there any difference between the oppressor and the oppressed when the oppressed use the same oppressive tactics that their oppressors use on them?
In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire writes, “Those who authentically commit themselves to the people must re-examine themselves constantly.”
As we work to free ourselves from the trauma caused by more than 400 years of colonization and perpetuated by decades of tyrannical governments disguised as democracies, do we still ask ourselves:
Who am I, really?
What am I fighting for?
And, most importantly, why am I fighting?
Unless we look within and ask, we’ll never come face to face with the harsh truth: That there’s a little piece of the oppressor in all of us, in the same way that there’s also a little piece of the oppressed.
Until then, we’ll continue to protest on the streets, post memes on social media, and cancel everyone who doesn’t know which politically correct label to use, without realizing that we are the very thing we want to bring down.
And yet, the most painful truths can also be the most healing.