Accredited to Jung, this phrase is about how any system or societal change starts with each of us. This truth returns to me again and again. Today, it was sparked by David Jason’s anecdote of the Queen where he saw an ‘off the cuff’ piece of television where the Queen was speaking to an ambassador from another country. *cue BBC English accent* “Actually, I thought I was talking to a gorilla.”
“Cheeky” and “It goes to show she has got a sense of humour” is how presenters on the televised sofa dealt with it.
Our cheeky Queen. Tut, roll eyes, shake head at the mischief of it all.
Importantly, it’s this. It’s the unquestioned, every day, entrenched assumptions and values that perpetuate privilege and prevent others from standing in their power. Usually, when we think of white supremacy, we see images of Hitler, Stalin, Churchill. It’s the huge players of history that cause racism, not me. It’s not me.
I’m starting to see it is. Me and each one of us. It’s a massive abuse of power, and we’re not even wise to it.
Someone I know was sexually abused as a child. She ticked almost every adverse childhood experience (ACE) box and naturally had difficulties growing up managing relationships. She always assumed it was the sexual abuse that was the cause of her problems. Because that was the worst thing, surely? This will sound contentious – but I am repeating her experience, and as it is her experience, it is valid. I have her permission to write about this.
After years of reflection and exploration, my lovely friend slowly became aware that although the molestation from her father was vile, it was the everyday, low-level emotional abuse from her mother that caused her the most harm. She says it’s because it was unquestioned and allowed. Would never meet the threshold for social intervention. Yet, it was this everyday erosion of the soul that caused the most damage.
Because it’s acceptable. Accepted. Just how it is.
As a result, racism, homophobia, ableism, class divide (and every other abuse of power) continues. It’s not because we, or societal structures, are inherently evil. It’s because we don’t see it. Our unconscious bias does a great job of burying difficult and uncomfortable truths in the name of survival. But we now know better. We can engage our pre-frontal cortexes and think and reflect our way through. Step out of our egos and develop our whole: become a ‘one’.
But first, we need to be brave enough to face challenging truths about our nature and the nature of a society we have propped up and caused untold harm and violence to those at the bottom of the power distribution. And secondly, we need to be bothered enough to do the work ourselves. We are all part of the problem.
How many of us would have the guts to say to Del Boy (our most loved Del Boy).
“WTF, Del? Did you just hear what you said and laughed at – let’s unpack that for a moment, shall we?”
I’m still learning myself. See earlier blog ‘ Statues, should they be removed?’