How disenfranchised does someone need to feel in order to loot a store for a couple of jumpers? Or to attack innocent store owners. One would expect any self-interested person that has a stake in society to instinctively not want to destroy their own community. What social conditioning, experiences and trauma must have created these impulses?
Who would I have been if my parents were different and if I was born somewhere else?
Reality is messy
Conditioned helplessness can make things all the more complex. How do you lift-up those who have been pushed down and continue to believe they can’t get up?
Oppression is undoubtedly a real danger. So is the helplessness of victimhood under difficult circumstances. In a sense, this is what we all face as human beings. It is what we must all embrace with our individual struggles. To recognise the wrong, the pain, and yet to persevere and do our best with the cards dealt. And, that involves standing-up to injustice too!
However, making a virtue out of victimhood serves nobody. Equally, those who point fingers at the disenfranchised with little compassion and say “don’t be a victim” are not helping either. You wouldn’t ask a man with a broken leg to hurry-up!
So, we must acknowledge the past’s impact, yet we must not cling to it. But, letting go of the past is easier said than done, especially when its force endures amidst still ongoing oppression. It is both the struggle of the individual and the struggle of the community. We must work from both ends — to stand-up to injustice and to break free of victimhood. And, the two will work to reinforce each other.
Remember that the roots may be deep. Even those who know that they need to break free of the past, can struggle. Trauma can go deep. And, the collective trauma of oppression and learnt helplessness reinforced by community, family and the media can go deep. Now think about those who are not even aware that they might be caught in such a trap.
It’s complex, I don’t know if there are easy answers except to do our best to end exploitation of all types and to try and heal together.
May all beings be free from suffering.
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.