Rarely out of malice. Though that may just be optimism.
I think it’s mostly a matter of ignorance and selfishness.
And not even the worst kind of selfishness, just the easiest one.
There’s a problem in the very perspective of our lives. We can only see through our own eyes, and feel our own feelings. In a particular sense, nobody else is real to us. Any individual can only imagine how any other individual feels. Doing that takes effort.
It still comes instinctively to us all, to try and empathise, but it means that sometimes things are going to get pushed aside. Your own perspective is almost always going to take precedence; because it’s the easiest.
Without empathy. You lose touch with others.
Once you’ve lost touch, you don’t think; and your perspective dominates.
Oppression comes in millions of different forms.
I think most of them are either caused by people who believe they know what is for the greater good, or people who think they are just behaving ‘naturally'; just doing what god/evolution/the world intended.
Both points are massively flawed. The first is flawed because you cannot even imagine what people who are similar to you are feeling, let alone people who are different. The latter is flawed because, well, a million different reasons. Nature is a stupid word. Either everything is natural, or nothing is. There must be some point at which we acknowledge that if there is a plan, we can’t see it. If there is a right way of doing things, we have to work it out, and we have to do that together.
But that means work. That means removing barriers and working out how everyone’s perspeective can be accounted for.
Another key reason, of course, is a belief in a finiteness of resources. The belief that there is not enough to go around leads to there never being enough for some. Hoarding. Even the weird form of hoarding that is consumption: the eating up whole of everything available.
Our modern world is full of oppressive structures even before we get below the surface.
The subtler forms are harder to fight. They aren’t just things that people believe are natural, they are things people see as so natural that they don’t notice them.
People aren’t often aware of their own thoughts. I certainly fail that one more often than not.
You need to learn to check yourself.
I need to check myself more often.
Be aware of how many biases you have floating around.
Most of them are invisible, so look hard. And if in doubt. Be quiet, listen and learn.
I wish I followed that advice more often. I’m pretty sure I’m a steamroller rather than a listener.
But I do try. And I keep on trying.
On my optimistic days, I think that’ll help reduce oppression.
On my off days, I just think people love power over others.
I prefer not to think that, but it may be the truth.
I hope not.
Illustration by Adam.