Perspectives of Harm
The other piece of yesterday’s post is that there are perspectives that are harmful and I have been struggling lately with how to handle those. For example, if someone grew up being raised by a misogynist who had a fundamentalist Christian belief system, then they may truly feel that women need to be subservient to men. Some of these type of churches are raising their little girls with the lessons that their Fathers and their Husbands have 100% final say in any decision made and they are basing these teachings in an infallible Bible. If we try to fit this into my post from yesterday, then I may have to allow for this perspective to hold their truth in it.
But I won’t. This is where perspective does not create a “your truth” and “my truth” situation where both truths can be allowed room to breathe and both truths can be considered when creating a path to improve the part of society they reflect upon. Another example are people raised in racist households where bigoted ideas are trumpeted regularly. “Black people are lazy,” or “Mexicans are rapists,” or “Muslims are terrorists,” or “Gays are are pedophiles.” I can see how someone grows up believing those things when it’s the language they are raised in. Why would you willingly seek out contrary opinions to your parents? You grown up believing they are right about everything.
I can allow these perspectives to exist without assuming the worst in the person holding them, but I do not have to allow them to exist without criticism. Just because you grew up poor and uneducated and therefore were not exposed to views of the world that would shift those of your bigot parents, does not mean I am not allowed to criticize your perspective. I can understand how you would become a racist, but that does not mean I’m not allowed to point out your racism.
These are the basic questions I ask myself about holding space for someone else’s truth. I don’t have to hold that space if the answers to any of these are, “Yes.” I can acknowledge the roots of that perspective, and maybe even use it as a way to be grateful that I did not end up entrenched in the same bigotry, but I do not have to allow it space to thrive. I can try to snuff out that perspective if it answers “yes” to any of these questions.
1) Does it infringe on someone’s personal liberty?
2) Does it bring into question someone’s humanity?
3) Does it reinforce a societal standard that is harmful to the community?
And while we can see the roots of these beliefs and maybe try to understand them so we can figure out how to extinguish them before they harm another generation of young minds, we don’t have to accept them as “truths” even of perspective. We can call them out.
But, for me personally, I will always try to do it in a way that also echoes my own journey away from perspectives that do not hold truths. I never really thought about how my own privilege of white skin, and a strong father figure, and financial stability created these false narratives of how I might have earned everything that I got in life. I had to sit in the discomfort of my own support of systemic racism, before I could learn to throw those perspectives in the past and reshape the truth of my own future. This is a never-ending journey. And I will always try to remind others of my own journey as I criticize any else’s harmful perspectives masquerading as truths. But I do not have to allow those harmful truths room to exist or to breathe without criticism.