Thursday, 12 December 2013

It's not the sameness in man that makes for conflict

Making a non-judgemental statement about cultural differences isn't 'racism'. Dishonouring the differences between cultures is. Commenting on gender differences isn't sexist, it opens avenues for debate and can let people understand when they are seeing through the filter of privilege. My respect for another culture, gender, sexual orientation, disability, belief system (etc) does not mean that I understand what it is to be a part of that world. If I can't point out the differences between my world view and yours, based on the differences between you and me, without being accused of having an 'ism', then how can I understand what I need to help you fight (for or against) in your world? And how can you understand my world view if you're afraid to ask me a question for fear of offending me?

We have to accept that we are different from each other. It's OK to be different. Diversity is all about being different. Dare to be different; forget the playground moulds that formed us into little Social Norms and Normas, wearing the uniform of our peers in rebellion against the uniform of authority. Shouting "that's  ____ist!" at any mention of the differences between us remoulds us and breaks us back into society's old image. It turns us back into the little sheeple that bleat back the socially acceptable tripe fed to us in 50 million shades of gray.

Come and roll on my wheels for a mile or two; this is my world. The people who are shouting and drowning out debate by gagging it with "that's  ____ist!" means that the differences that cause the problems faced by the long term sick and disabled are not just being dishonoured, but downright trashed. We are different; it causes us problems. Trying to pretend that you can stick every disabled person into a one size fits all ticky box just won't work. It can't. We didn't ask to get ill. We didn't request loss of abilities and independance. Most of us can stand up (figuratively) and shout (figuratively) "This difference in me is not a fault. I am not at fault because I am different."

But we get stared at. Pointed out. I get up out of the wheelchair and walk up a single step into a shop so that my carer doesn't strain her back and people look at me as if I'm faking needing the chair. Godsdamnit why don't you just ask the questions outright, to me, I'll answer as long as they are asked with respect. But they are all afraid I'll acuse them of disabled-ism, so the assumptions remain; wheelchair users can never walk unaided at all. If a wheelchair user gets up and walks either [a deity] has popped by, or the person is a fraud. This is dishonouring my differences, both from the able-bodied and from other people with disabilities. It's as insulting as asking my carer if I take sugar over my head, or portraying a pentagram as always only evil, or asking if the skin colour will wash off.

I'll bet this is impacting on your world too. That your differences are being dishonoured because we can't share them. Can't talk about them. Got to shove it all under the carpet and paint ourselves as gray, genderless, sexless, pay-cheque robots. If we don't fit the moulds we can get brushed under the carpet too; just like being back in the playground the sheep turn into wolves when they see a difference. Better to bleat and not be noticed? I don't think so.

The more people I listen to, the more I love my animals. My parrot makes more sense most of the time than 99% of the internet.