There’s a concept that’s important to me but often struggles to traverse the space between my heart and mind, to the heart and minds of others. It seems to be an issue of semantics. Or possible ego. But often this concept dies in the territory of “what they thought I meant”.
In an attempt to make it clear, I offer an analogy…
The conversations around privilege and oppression are overwhelmingly ones of “More and Less”. So to the visual: two cups, each with different amounts of water in them. Comparison is the lens of self awareness, and so we would describe these cups, with no simpler option, as “This cup has more. That cup has less”
This isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s exceptionally accurate and succinct, and there’s no denying it. But I’d like to draw the conversation into a realm of emphasizing empathy over separation.
I propose a semantic shift.
In order to adjust our course towards utopia, if it even exists, The focus should be on This and That. “THIS cup has more. THAT cup has less.” Otherness. Separation. Division. These concepts drive disagreement, apathy, and bias. I believe that’s where the damage is being done. More and less are the symptoms of a deeper issue: the notion of This and That .
Now, imagine those cups. What if we said “These Cups are not equally filled”….? Can you feel the difference? Do you notice that tingling sensation in you that signals a change? The shift is from otherness to familiarity. We’re moving the marker along the spectrum. This is a growth in your Awareness of Self.
Now imagine pouring those cups into a bowl, and setting them aside. The bowl is ancient, worn, but not dysfunctional. It was used once, a very long time ago. This bowl did a fantastic job of containing all the contents of our existence. But systems developed in the culture of man. Systems that didn’t work within one bowl. And we created cups, and took our portions, and left familiarity behind for personal advancement. We found power in otherness.
But that’s not how this story has to end.
So, hold all of your frustration with oppression, desire for privilege, and hopeful longing for equality. Feel the tension of centuries of otherness weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of people around the world. Do you feel it? That weight on your shoulders? It’s bigger than you might think, because despite the tired look that this sensation bring s you, you’re actually sharing it with the rest of humanity. The privileged and the oppressed carry this burden. Some feel it more than others. So now, feeling that sensation, but knowing that it is all of ours to bare, say out loud:
“This Bowl. Us. Together.”
Can you feel the difference? In your shoulders and bones? In your heart and your soul? Keep that. Savor it. Share it. This is a growth in your Awareness of Others, and the Universe itself. Any time you experience a state of privilege or oppression in your daily life, take a moment and look at the “other” people and remind yourself.