Recently, a friend and I were having a conversation about politics….kinda’. The discussion was more about the ways that what our parents called the civil rights movement has started to sprout branches and become what we call the “social justice movement” complete with its own “warriors.”
That conversation grew legs and we began to talk about how the modern social justice movement seems to change its rules every single day without rhyme or reason leaving all of us with the little red laser dot square on our foreheads so that on Monday, you can be a social justice darling and by Wednesday, the same people who elevated you, are calling for your head.
For all the good that today’s social justice movement is doing and aims to do in the future, I can’t help but notice that it’s heavy-chested. By heavy-chested, I mean that it is full of passion but light on logic. This lack of logic isn’t only observed in the individual merits of each particular ask, but also in how any perceived breach is addressed.
Commonly, the claim is made that this is all about respect. Nobody has to agree with your point of view but they must respect your right to feel that way and your humanity. But, in the thick of things, when those points of view are challenged, it’s not uncommon for a mob to be unleashed, equipped with insults and think pieces about why this varying opinion is sure to help hasten the coming apocalypse.
The most recent example of this is Chimamanda Adichie. When asked by an interviewer about her thoughts on transwomen, Adichie gave a very balanced answer. She noted, in part, that natal women have different experiences than transwomen who lived at least a part of their life as boys/men and experienced life in that way. Of course, the mob was summoned ASAP and she and her comments were labeled “transphobic” amongst other things.
If your first reaction to her comment was to call her or her comment “transphobic,” you are probably one of those people who are all romance but little thought. If we examine what she said with our brain, we see nothing but truth: someone who has lived their entire life as a woman will indeed have a different experience than someone who lived a part of their life as a male. Someone who has been thin their whole life will have a different experience than someone who has been overweight their whole life. Someone who grew up middle class will have a different experience than someone who grew up below the poverty line. These statements are not hatred or bigotry. They are not ignorance. They are not –phobic or –ist. They are logical conclusions. There isn’t an essay, think piece, or “dragging” committee that will change that.
We may not like what logical statements imply. They may make us uncomfortable or hurt our feelings; but what is, is. You are well within your rights to listen and read everything with your heart if you choose, but I posit that in doing so, you’re setting yourself up for a ride on the emotional rollercoaster to your personal hell.
This modern movement is purportedly predicated on truth but it seems that in many cases, the closer someone gets to the truth, the faster the blades on the outrage machine spin. But, the modern social justice movement isn’t the only place this emotion-laden approach is taking over. As a self-described Centrist or a member of what I’ve heard called the “thinking Left,” I’ve observed both sides of the spectrum become increasingly zealous up to the point of complete imprudence and/or delusion in expressing their world views (ie. “alt-right”).
My theory is that when the truth doesn’t fit the narrative, it’s much easier to take off that thinking cap and pluck those heartstrings to lull themselves into obtuseness instead. Unfortunately, I don’t see how a strong movement can operate that way for as long as it takes to reach its goals.
What happened to balance?
I know that people may find it hard to believe, but your views can be questioned or challenged without there being a malevolent underbelly. Someone can disagree with you and simultaneously wish you no harm at all. It’s possible to have distinct solutions to a common problem without any of those solutions being inherently evil. It’s possible to be friends with people whose solutions differ from your own. It’s possible to solve common problems without extremism in either direction. There’s no need to block a friend of 5 years at the direction of your fellow SJW who saw where they “liked” something “problematic.”
It is often said that the goal is a seat at the table. Even if the goal is to destroy the table and start over, that’s going to require a cogent foundation upon which to build.
By the way, someone somewhere read this and is mad that I used the word “natal” in the 5th paragraph.
Something to chew on.