The Dark Side
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Somehow, today I am starkly reminded of this Star Wars quote.
Yeah, I know. Star Wars. Of all things. But I’m reading Twitter as I type this, and there is so much fear, anger and hate going on. Let me be very clear here: I am not talking about the fear, anger and hate The Othered are feeling now. Because they are so very, very much entitled to feeling like this.
And they so very, very much don’t need my approval for feeling like this. I am just pointing this out because it is not to them I want to appeal. I want to appeal to us, the privileged, those who are only marginally Othered, if at all.
Take me, for example. I am white, cis, middle class, read as heterosexual and my only visible discrepancies with those at the highest level of societal power are that I am a woman and fat (a small fat at that). My physical and mental health issues are invisible, and so I pass as acceptable in the eyes of society at first glance.
In short, this is not about me. Except of course it is because I am offering my point of view, hence the the above introduction of sorts.
Anyway. To you, who fears all things that are not like you: I get fear. There are so many things I am afraid of in my everyday life. Yes, they’re kind of trivial, like being afraid of using the phone, of driving, of stairs… but they have or have had great impacts on my life at times. Also, I’m all too familiar with panic attacks and other fun anxiety issues. So yeah, I get fear.
What I do not get is fear of The Other. Fear of those who are not like you, not like us. People who live their lives differently from us, be it out of choice (rarely) or because they were born different from you and me.
I. Do. Not. Understand. Not because I am particularly “woke” (frankly, I am stumbling through the dark trying not to bump into or smash things), but because it is something I cannot wrap my head around.
What did The Othered do to you? How are they threatening you? How does them living their lives openly concern you in any way?
Or is it because you are scared of what you were led to believe might happen?
Look, I know all about that. Like I said: Anxiety and me, we’re close friends. Whenever faced with something that makes me uncomfortable, my mind starts running around in circles and provides me with all the worst possible outcomes within seconds. And so I worry. Sometimes, I worry to the point of panic. Sometimes, I let that stop me from living. Sometimes, I go ahead anyway. Not often enough, mind you. And yes, I get mad. I get angry. I even get to the point of hating. But here’s the thing: I eventually realize that the person I need to get angry at is me. Sometimes I even hate myself for a while.
You see, ultimately, I choose to question my feelings. I try to find their cause, and yes, admittedly, quite often their cause lies not just within me, but also in this society we live in. This horrid society that favors few and leaves so many behind. And then I project my anger upon society, because it feels much more righteous than being pissed off at myself for my apparent lack of whatever it is I am supposed to be at that moment. And also because being nauseated by our society seems like a pretty appropriate outlook, as far as I’m concerned.
Yes, so far, in a bizarre way, part of me actually understands the thinking of those that fear The Othered. I agree that something must be done. But that’s where the similarities end. Because my line of thinking goes like this: Society must change to accommodate all of us. I am not talking about tolerance, I am talking about acceptance, enthusiastic acceptance at that. I demand equality and inclusion, I demand that we privileged few not just listen to marginalized voices and pat ourselves on the back for being the good allies we percieve ourselves to be, but do our utmost to remove Othering.
You? You want to remove The Other, because it scares you.
And here’s another thing, I want to be very, very clear on: I am not talking about one particular religion or other belief system. Because I know that my own religious denomination has been responsible of removing anything it percieved as The Other in the most brutal ways possible for most of its recorded history. It still is. There are many out there who call themselves Christians who would gladly and gleefully do what this person did, who at this point in time, while I type this, is painted as a radical muslim, which he may or may not be. There are many of them out there who already did just that, in other ways, in other times and places. Who still do. Who plan to.
Because fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate. So far, that quote seems correct.
Except for the fact that the suffering is done by The Othered. Always The Othered. Never us. No, your very own private little hell your hate created in your life does not count in comparison. No. Stop arguing. It doesn’t. Shut up. Go away.
I fear you. I am so unbelievably angry at you. I hate you. Because you make others suffer for not being like you.
Why would anybody want to be like you.