Life is a minefield, right? We often rely on teachers, parents and external sources to educate both ourselves and those around us. The more the world is exposed to different cultures, and the more minorities are speaking up, more and more arguments seem to be popping up. To be clear, I am not implying that this is the fault of said minorities. Often I find that those around me are not as willing to accept that what they say or do is wrong, but I don’t feel that this is always the makings of a shit person.
I’ve felt this way for a while, but the first time I heard it verbalised was in the Ben Howe episode of Matt D’Elia is Confused. The episode focuses on Ben Howe’s book ‘The Immoral Majority’ and is a great listen. In conversation about how the Evangelical Christians in America came to love Trump as they do, discussion turned to many political causes, parties and figures. Ben Howe is talking about how people can change, and that bridging the gape by using your rationale and knowledge to educate people can lead to genuine social change. I have never agreed with a politically conservative person as much as I did in that moment.
In my experience, people with discriminatory and prejudicial views are often uneducated. No, I don’t mean these people are not educated but that they are uneducated in the topic they have these views about. Now, before I continue, there are a couple of things that I’d like to clarify that you are not obligated to educate anybody on anything and nor is anybody else. Every person has the right to decide for themselves what they do and don’t engage in. It’s also important to ensure that you do not speak over people with lived experience when trying to educate someone. For example, if talking about LGBTQ+ issues, do not speak over an LGBTQ+ person.
This podcast really triggered a bit of a thought spiral on the night I was listening to it, it’s interesting what starts to happen in your brain when something is finally verbalised that you’ve struggled to verbalise for such a long time. With cancel culture taking over the internet, I’ve felt unease. I think, absolutely, there are people who genuinely do not want to change, won’t change and don’t deserve the platform that they have. However, I also think that it’s important to remember that celebrities are also human. Making a bad decision, or an uneducated decision, does not always equal a trash person. Before I get cancelled I’m not saying a POC should go and shake hands with a member of the KKK, I’m saying that if you deem it appropriate and safe, and you want to – take some time to educate your peers on why things they do and say are wrong.
Hostility and hate fester through misunderstanding, and other things too obviously but we’re talking about educating people to ensure they do understand things before forming an opinion. Example, there’s a strong notion that all feminists are man haters, killjoys, sticks in the mud. There’s an idea of radical feminism and crazy feminism but if you sit down, and look at it logically, feminism is feminism is feminism. Women aren’t crazy for being passionately feminist, they’re just tired of being treated like crap. I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with people about feminist ideology, the patriarchy and why I need feminism. Sometimes, people understand and change their attitudes and sometimes they don’t.
I’ve explained why things are racist to people who had no idea. I’ve explained why using the word ‘gay’ as an insult is harmful to people who grew up in a time where it was the norm and now actively make the decision to change their behaviour. I’ve listened to people make Islamophobic comments having never met someone of faith, and then told them that X person who they loved is a Muslim, they were shocked. This is why I make the decision to have these conversations and try to educate others, in the hopes that I will get through to someone and hopefully improve future attitudes and tolerance.
On the flip side to that, I’ve also spoken to people who haven’t made that decision. I can’t win all the time. It’s important to acknowledge that sometimes people will not change. It’s okay to stop trying to educate, or choose not to educate people. You do not ever have to compromise your beliefs, values or happiness for another human.
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