Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 10 seconds
Dear Beloved Oppressor,
This is an “I love you, but…” letter.
Let’s start with the premise that you are human, as am I. As such, we both have the capacity to feel, and to empathize; to think, and to re-think; to control, and to resist.
So, let’s re-cap. Humans. Subjects. Not objects.
Feelings. You have them, I have them. This means that even though I empathize with your feelings, you are not the only one that has them. Occasionally, it would be kinda nice if you considered mine. Because the reason I prioritize your feelings more often is not because your feelings are more important, it’s because I am trying to be considerate.
Thoughts. You have them, I have them. This means that when I re-think things based on your ideas, it does not mean you are the only one who has ideas. Occasionally, it would be kinda nice if you considered mine. Because the reason I give room for your thoughts and ideas is not that your ideas are always better than mine, but because I am trying to be open-minded.
Control. Everyone wants control over their life. Occasionally, to control our lives, we feel compelled to control other people’s lives, including people we care about. Sometimes we feel it would be unethical not to show care via control. More often than not, this is not a good idea. Attempts at control, at exerting power in overt or covert ways, often create friction and even resistance.
There is an Islamic saying (prophet Muhammad) about the greatest “jihad” (effort) – it is one’d struggle to control one’s own self, the struggle against one’s own inner desires to occasionally do harm.
Dear benevolent oppressor, you may mean well, you may think you’re doing it for the greater good, but you are not.
Think about it. Trusting others, leaving space for their agency, nurturing that agency, that is what is better for everyone long term. Because you cannot ever be everywhere and everything for everyone for ever. Because everyone needs to control their own destiny and your place is to respect and encourage it, not suppress this.
Just because your view is the dominant one at the moment, does not mean you need to enforce it, just because you can. It doesn’t mean that enforcing it will get it through any better, or make it last any longer. It probably won’t.
Consider controlling yourself instead of others; empathizing instead of getting angry or hurt; opening your mind instead of being stubborn.
Talking to yourself, instead of blaming others.
I’m talking to you. I’m talking to myself.