First, I have a confession.
I am sick. I have mental health issues. Finally, I have taken and am actively utilizing both my personal support structure and professional help via therapy and a psychiatrist. I am able to do so only because I have a family with resources. During much of the past year-and-a-half in particular, anger has been my primary emotion. Attempting to understand the breadth of current circumstances is overwhelming. A master could not throw a dart at a map made to describe the human condition without striking a terrifying disparity between reality and what basic decency would demand. The tsunami of injustices existent within just the country I live in is enough to break me. Turning outward to the rest of the world brings a flood of pain to make the word “injustice” too weak. I’ve felt powerless, paralyzed by the immensity of the opposition even as I moved through the motions of attempting to contribute to change.
I must confess to indulging a white savior complex. I confess, I want to help fix everything; I admit how this is not only counterproductive, it’s downright dangerous. I have, and always will, need to confront my own inner ugliness; the latent misogyny, prejudices, racism, and more, all ingrained within my own psyche. I am privileged to have friends and family defend my own actions and personality when I’ve brought these issues up. I appreciate their concern for my image of myself, but the truth is difficult, uncomfortable, and inescapable.
Acknowledging the destructive mindset of the wannabe white savior, I’ve struggled with answering the accompanying questions. What does leveraging my cis man, white privilege look like? How do I contribute to anything beyond what amounts to momentary or Pyrrhic victories?
I’ve come to believe a partial answer: I will work to live in a mindset of healthy empathy. I will continue to struggle with the balance I hope to find in service of others and my own mental health. I will utilize my privilege by showing up to the actions of the disenfranchised and oppressed; following the leadership and example of the people I am there to defend. I will have the uncomfortable, possibly confrontational conversations with friends and family in my physical and digital space. I will not be a passive observer of toxic culture and societal “norms.” I will confront within myself the defensiveness I feel when I am called upon to acknowledge when I fail.
The remainder of the answer is far more complex. I don’t need to have the whole of the answer to get to work, however. I’ve let myself be caught in a cycle of belief centered around wanting to understand before I make decisions. Understand what? Frankly, I’m not entirely sure. I spent a great deal of my life very carefully compartmentalizing emotions and thoughts. Or so I allowed myself to believe. When I was able to grow from this mindset, I then had to learn what it was to allow the idea that my emotions and thoughts are inextricably intertwined.
The world is a scary, fucked up place. I live in it. Every day I have a choice to try and do something about the scary fuckupedness. Some days I’ll fail, but I’m committed to the struggle. I’ve begun with myself, and now I look to influence the people in my circles. Maybe someday I’ll be able to do more. For now, though, just these pieces are enormous. One, two, three, fuck the bourgeoisie!