You Can Never Understand- Alexander Cullen

Something I hear often, “Because of you’re not part of demographic x, because you didn’t go through y, because you won’t suffer from the consequences of z, you’ll never understand.” It’s a point made from the fact that knowledge, information, ultimately stems from experience. After all, how could one know anything of something they’ve never encountered?

It’s also the argument that’s disarming our greatest problem solving strength. It denies our ability to empathize. Humanity as a species is violent, egotistical, and self-serving, but we’re shorting ourselves if we don’t believe in large our ability to understand each other. Boundaries, race, creed, sex, the affirmation we can’t step across these lines is a disservice to our humanity. Before anything, Humanity and Love, we belong to these things primarily and to put something else at the origin of our self-worth is vain. We should participate in boundary dissolving enterprises, not the erection of sociopolitical and economic walls.

For the longest time this was the progression of mankind. The emancipation of 3.9 million saves in in the middle of the 19th century, the giving of the vote to women in the begging of the 20th century, and of course, the amazing leaps taken to an egalitarian society by civil rights activists fifty years later. The dynamic was always the elimination of the artifices which separated us as human beings. A view of humanity, where personhood stood before, gender, class, race, sexual orientation, or anything else.

This was most embodied by MLK’s vision for the progression of mankind, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” I think the point is clear, and undebatable.

From my personal observations, a large portion of modern social activism directly counters the progress we’ve made. It’s a proliferation of group identity, the affirmation of distinctions between people, and an emphasis on the many affiliations we have by our psychology. What has been left in the dust is our inherit worth as individuals. In the modern age we live in a society where one’s sexual orientation, gender, and race are pertinent information to the educational institution one attends.

 

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