Privilege and listening

Stephen Collins
Mar 12, 2017 · 2 min read

The words in the image are very true.

Now, engaging in the political process doesn’t mean getting involved in the mud-slinging, pettiness, “you are not like me and must be my enemy on this”, shouty, failure to listen that is the hallmark of much of the present public sphere. That’s just a sure way to get angry and sad.

It also doesn’t mean that there is, or that you need to accept, the existence of an “other side” that has a right to an equal voice. There IS NO OTHER SIDE, for example, to whether vaccination is a good idea and scientifically and physiologically safe, nor is there an alternative, legitimate voice on climate change: the science is in and proven, or whether women are and should be equal to men in society and work, or if women should be the ones deciding who has control over decisions about their bodies. And so on.

There IS a diverse set of things we CAN argue about — economics, justice, best models for politics, military engagement, where and how we should spend money on health, education, defence, and much more.

What it SHOULD mean is that we look, listen, attempt to understand though not by any means agree, and just talk with each other so that even if we can’t or don’t resolve differences we at least understand what the shape of those differences looks like. And it also means that we should be aware of, and check, our privilege when someone raises an issue we don’t necessarily have full insight into (white folks in particular, I’m looking at us).

To quote F. Scott Fitzgerald. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

/minor rant over.

Hat-tip to the Queensland Greens on Facebook for the pic (though I’m sure they aren’t the OP).

Originally published at Stephen Collins.

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