There is an old, wise fish swimming by two young fish and he asks… “How’s the water?” The young fish looks to his companion and says, “What’s water?” - David Foster Wallace
The most obvious, important realities are often the most difficult to talk about.
Most of us live pretty good lives. We don’t even know we are living in white privilege water until someone points it out. THEN we get uncomfortable and deny and refuse to see it.
In our WP lives……we have good interactions with police officers and authority. We aren’t automatically judged or categorized by the color of our skin. We have positive, relaxed vibes at stores and with salespeople. Our schools work and we have updated materials and technology. We see people in movies and on tv and in ads that look like us. We don’t have racial slurs and comments targeted at us like, “In our country we ….” Or. “Go back where you came from.” (Both said to my BIPOC friend recently. She is born and raised in Utah.)
Oh don’t get me wrong, we have frustrations and we have to deal with crap sometimes, but for the most part, the system works for us. We don’t have to be conscious of other people’s difficult, "less than" lives because it doesn’t affect us.
We can stay unaware of other's well being, or we can move into willful awareness and work on our empathy.
Here is where the world of CHOOSING comes into play.
If I don’t make a conscious decision about what to think and what to pay attention to…because my natural default setting is to just think and worry about me and mine, then I’m really good at moving to “how annoying others are, how deeply wrong it is that black people are angry and destroying things and protesting and can’t they just get over it already and move on or at least say it nicer…..I mean don’t they know they are hurting their own cause? And I can't help the past, why am I being blamed for it, and what's the big deal about Aunt Jemimah syrup or Thomas Jefferson, I mean really?”
There are other ways to think about all of this…but it takes moving into your higher brain. You have to choose it. IT takes will and effort to think about other people and especially people who have been “othered.”
As you work on it you can offer curiosity and compassion instead of disdain and judgment.
“Maybe my black/brown brother or sister’s life really is different than mine in some ways. Maybe there are places where it is harder and unfair. Maybe if I lived their reality I would be angry too. Maybe I would want changes in policing, the prison system, wealth gaps, school funding, voter suppression, and health care. Maybe I would want to find children's books that show people who look like me....“
Some days you won’t be able to do it.
But some days… on your more evolved, love one another, we are all children of God days… you can offer curiosity and compassion.
The only thing TRUE is you get to decide what to think about it all. SO….. CHOOSE thoughts that help you move into curiosity and compassion.
The alternative is unconscious, self-centered living that just keeps the world moving and working for you in your white privileged water, but not for everyone.
When we open our eyes and thoughts around the “least of these” we all benefit.