Western Culture Unraveled

“Paul Miller Protest”

We’ve all been told a story by the whispering wind of Western culture blowing into our ears. This story of peaceful revolutions, of God-given right to land inhabited by savages, of choosing the path of entire peoples “for their own good.” The whispered words of Western culture guide the white-centric world, justifying an unforgivable structure of violence perpetuated against all. Western culture is the silent storm of thought that is ever present, yet invisible enough to the untrained eye that most believe it has been missing for decades.

We are told that we are living in a post colonial world, yet with the breeze of Western culture still breathing down our necks, this is impossible. We are living in a post “colonial,” post “slavery,” post “apartheid” world, yet Western culture assures that we do not lose these structures, that we come up with new words to justify the same means.

When people living under the totalitarian thumb of Western culture decide to rise up, to claim status as equal human beings next to the white masters who continue chaining them down, Western culture whispers that they are dangerous, violent revolutionaries, they are showing their savage ways, they haven’t “changed,” they cannot be trusted. So the white masters tie the chains a little tighter, make an example, and stifle the revolution. They say, “Be more like Martin Luther King Jr.,” “Be more like Ghandi.” But they neglect to point out that peace can only get you so far, and when you get to the end of the peaceful road, the only tool left is violence.

Violence is not always physical. It hides under the guise of Western culture, and we are shown only one of its many faces, yet the others still exist and do their damage. Violence is not just black and white, massacres, bloody battles— violence is tourism to “poor” countries, it is the industrial prison complex, it is capitalism, violence is coloniality—the Western systems of thought that are left behind even after colonies disappear. And forefront on the grounds of coloniality is the idea of what makes a human. The story says that violence perpetuates violence, and what is more violent than the Western model of humanity…?

Over time, the winds of the tale of Western culture have become unpredictable, they are unraveling at the edges. The tale as old as empires is coming to an end, and when the time comes, let us not make the same mistakes that lead us this far. Let us redefine what it is to be human, and let us not make a structure of quantification for qualification. It is time to question why the textbook definition of human is based on a white Western model. Let us ask what the new humanity will look like, and let us redefine the systems that allow for the oppressive violence Western culture loves to hide. If we must start with violence to end in peace, then let us consider this justice, for it is the oppressed who seek it.

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