One of those moments you hashtag “1stworldproblems” and then cringe at your own insensitivity. I’ve spent the last two days meeting with colleagues, creating beautiful things for beautiful times, and in the down times I’ve been exploring the streets of the town I’m currently in through the eyes of two mobile phone/ GPS games. Ingress (a giant game of capture the flag with 7 million people) and the newly released Pokemon Go (a version of the famous computer game that puts you outside finding animated Pokemon with your phone’s camera) and as I’m walking along, playing a game, I started getting sweaty and was far away from home when my battery was almost dead. Just at this moment my mother back in Australia facebooks and says ‘you wanna skype?’
Frustrated much? – To skype mum I would have to walk 25 minutes home. get my charger, charge my phone for a bit and then find free wifi somewhere to skype her publically, which would end up with me laughing too loud and annoying everyone. #sweaty.
Here I was, complaining about the “hardness” of my life, on the other side of the world from home, working a dream job, playing a fun game in a pretty town, using technology that not everyone has currently, whilst in America people are getting shot.
I’ve seen blogs and heard podcasts over the last few months trying to make sense of, respond to, figure out solutions to the gun violence in America. Some try the “get rid of all guns” method. Some call for “more Guns”. Some are blaming race or privilege or anger and hatred. Some call for silence. Mourning. Remembering.
What I have been thinking about since my battery dying yesterday have been the deeply shocking contrasts. Between wealth and poverty. Between violence and safety. Between independence and any semblance of selfless discomfort. Between a misunderstanding of freedom and an ignorant view of what wall-less prisons that some humans live in.
Why do I get to walk around a Lithuanian town with my relatively modern iPhone, playing a futuristic game, feeling extremely safe? It isn’t just because I chose to be here. It isn’t just because I’m good at getting what I want. It isn’t because I’m the smartest or the best at something. I’m a non-university trained missions educator and communications curator.
Why is it that I have never shot anyone or never been shot at? Why is it that I have never slept on the streets outside of my own choosing? Why I have never been in a bar fight? Why I have never been kicked out of an event or a venue outside of my own rebellious cheekiness? I have never needed to steal or beg for food. I have never been in prison. And the amount of times I have feared for my life, can be counted on half of one of my hands and two of those times have included dogs.
If my life is so good because of other people, can I really take all the credit for living the dream? No. I have to give credit to my parents, to my friends, to those who have trained me to think…. And, if I was born into privilege AND was helped by people, why are those who are not born into privilege given much more. Helped with more enthusiasm?
AND, WHY aren’t they born into privilege?
For whatever reason, white privilege is pumping fear into the conservative right of multiple powerful western countries. The EU elections swung wildly to the right. The recent Australian elections gave more seats to the passionately racist “one nation” party who ignorantly claim that Australia is a ‘white’ nation, when it was very brown for 40,000 years before whites started raping and pillaging beautiful culture. The BREXIT leave campaign was fueled by the attitude that non-english people are ruining their lives, when most of the interesting parts of British culture are very non-english. Same goes for Australia. if we didn’t have Asian and middle eastern immigrants we would be eating crap bread and vegemite every day. I love vegemite, but I love laksa and kebabs WAY more.
I don’t understand what is happening in America right now. But it seems to be heavily race, religion and fear related. And I don’t like it. Because then it is heavily related to how we label other people. I believe in a specific God, and a specific set of moral absolutes. For example, the God I believe in loves everyone. And I believe that killing people is wrong. So everyone is valuable and everyone is labelled as valuable, even if they disagree with me, even if they hurt me. People are still valuable.
If we label one race better than the other. Or one belief system better than another. Or ones safety more valuable than others, you set up a culture to implode into conflict. I think athiests are wrong. But smart atheists are the best people to talk to sometimes because they have thought more deeply about that side of worldview. Most of them don’t come to their conclusions because they are just being awful people. They have a sincerity similar to my sincerity in my experience with God. I LOVE athiests, even when they irritate me with being right about some things.
I also believe I will live forever (sounds weird huh?) but it means my grasp on being alive here is quite loose. But if one believes that this is the only life we have to live, then of course one would put all their effort into figuring out how to make life the best. Sometimes at the expense of other peoples lives. But is that ok? In a civilsed society, is it ok for one group of people to believe they are more valuable than another group? Or that the other groups lives can be used to make the first groups lives better. Like slavery. Or forced prostitution. Or using children in mines or clothes factories. Their lives aren’t worth as much as our need for cheap brightly coloured clothes.
Our labels are important. And of course, our labels are there from experience. If a girl breaks my heart, its going to be a while till I get over it and try again. If a Mexican steals from me multiple times, I might not trust Mexicans near my wallet so quickly. We have labels, we have trust issues, we have intimacy boundaries for good reason, but all of these things can be logically thought through and redeemed.
So… where am I going with this? In this culture of “terror”ism, fear is being hyper-encouraged. and what is the opposite of fear? What is the one thing that lessens terror? When a giant spider drops on our backs and freaks us out what is the best thing for us in that moment?
Our Dads/ Mums comforting embrace? Calmly telling us ‘everything will be alright’. Then the parent goes and gets the broom and makes sure there are no more spiders around. We need comfort. We need security from love, not guns, not fences, not a Mexican wall. LOVE. Building a wall around our room to keep spiders out doesn’t stop us not thinking about the spiders. Cuddles do. Cuddles embrace us with goodness, affirmation, warmth.
I’m convinced, most of my ‘privilege’ comes from the positive words my parents have spoken over me since birth. Even returning to Europe this last time, as we were driving to the bus stop my Dad said ‘I’m proud of you’. and it almost melted me to blubbering tears. I feel like I can do anything because there are at least two incredible human beings back in Canberra who believe in me.
Believe in each other. Comfort each other. Make space for each other to be better versions of themselves. Hatred and racism are disgusting. But not doing enough to reverse the curse of racism is just as disgusting. I didn’t choose where I was born. neither do any of us.
But we get to choose how we treat people. So treat em nice yeah?