What can I do? (I have to do something)

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by BlackholeKG, Jul 11, 2016.

  1. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    I don't even feel like I can write this thread properly but I gotta try

    I saw a post on tumblr recently talking about the police. Specifically, it was criticizing people who object to statements like "all cops are bastards" by talking about individual "good" cops, by saying that the entire institution of the police upholds a framework of oppression, in its current form. It was advocating for a sort of community policing, I think, cops in their current manifestation are non necessary, we've been influenced by pro-cop propaganda, etc.

    And while I don't know the specific arguments or proposals for alternative policing institutions, it got me thinking, that yeah, they have a point. It really underpinned how the society that I live in is upheld by these ancient institutions which kind of have oppressive dynamics baked into their foundations, you know? Expressed in a thousand subtle traditions and assumptions and mechanisms and laws and through a culture that is all structured to benefit... well, my demographic. Well, while it's true that I am not actually straight or cisgender or male, I have at least nominally received the benefits of having been assumed as such in the past. And, I certainly do benefit from the privilege of being white and fairly well off, financially speaking. Even if you do discount the fact that I am bisexual and (eh, yeah, I might as well just claim it fully at this point) transgender, being a British white amab (and male-appearing) person in London gives what is in practice a sweeping privilege as opposed to nearly all other demographics.

    I absolutely despise the fact that this is the case.

    I'm not feeling the most amount of esteem for myself at the moment, as my very lifestyle and mode of existence are indeed contributing to the problem; that is to say, by continuing to go along as I do with society's status quo, exploiting my advantages and not objecting to the systems I find myself emplaced in, I am perpetuating a mechanism of exploitation, oppression, and, I suppose, class-stratification? To be more blunt, I, and people like me, in a sense are the problem that needs to be solved. Which is a phrasing that is disgusting self-centric I know, and the biggest problem with this whole post is that it is so self-flagellatory and focused on my own white middle class guilt or whatever, but bear with me - okay, look, there is a set of scales in play here, tipped disgustingly in my favour, and I need to do something to address that, but I do not know what or how. I am terrified of going against the status quo. On the other side of the boundary lies potential for pain and hurt and very scary self-sacrificy things. And... I think, morally, my demographical position means that I honestly deserve those repercussions, that it is indeed my duty to bear them, to help redress the balance. But I don't know what to do. I should be going to protests and things, maybe? But I don't even know who organises those, and the prospect makes me feel so vulnerable, and I know that's pathetic but it's the truth, I'm afraid, and like...

    I mean, yes, I would go to protests if I knew about them, but that's hardly even enough, is it? That's basically just lip service if I then go home and continue to exploit my privilege as normal, sinking back into the "status quo". I have to really act, do something to make a difference. Anything less is morally reprehensible. At the same time, I just want to live my life and do the best I can for myself, but every way I've been shown this issues and looked at them myself has told me that inaction is as good as passive support of oppression and prejudice. So I've got to do something??? But I don't know what. Honestly, I literally have no ideal how I can help to dismantle what is festering within our society. What is festering within me. Because, like, some of these ideas and institutions I know even now have been baked into my brain as a child... despite my best efforts I can't work all of them out of my subconscious... I don't always even notice them... I am myself corrupted by this.

    And so honestly the only true way I can see to redress the balance would be some huge act of self-sacrifice, something that I am not capable of, and which would contribute to (causes???) and also remove the problem of me being a problem. But I can't do anything like that, the thought terrifies me, I just want to live my life and be happy but I can't because if I do I am an oppressor??? I need to do something to make this right. I can't live with myself being the bad guy and yet my brain and my family want me to do just that, just stick to living life as I have, and I don't know what to do... I know I am part of the problem but I don't know how to fix that... What can I do to make it right? I don't want to focus this too closely on me because making me Feel Good is not the real issue here but also that is also the thing I need to feel like I am not an evil agent of the system I need to be Good objectively but I'm not doing that with my current life and with any of the life options that are in any way appealing to me? I don't want to have to devote my entire life to activism and abandon my other aspirations, and I don't want to go and do some big demonstrative act that'd get me thrown in jail or something but it seems like those are the only appropriate acts of magnitude... I don't know what to do to make it right, help please what can I do
  2. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    Okay, first, slow down and breathe.

    Second, never take moral guidance from people on tumblr, they are full of shit and are just trying to make you feel bad so they can have some effect on the world.

    And what can you do past that? Be aware. Look for opportunities to help. Look at Roach's recent post about a black kid being harassed by a white girl in Chicago, for instance. That's a kind of thing you can do. You can keep a camera with you and record cops.

    But for the most part, the fact that you're even thinking about the problem means that you're already much less of the problem than you think. That, and the way you're thinking about it suggests that you're a lot more marginalized than you think.

    Here's the thing: "exploiting" privilege doesn't just mean having it, it means intentionally taking advantage of it. You aren't obliged to somehow make it all stop; you can just do your bit to spread the awareness or whatever, and go from there. And if you are afraid of things, then maybe don't do them. "Put on your own mask before assisting others."
    • Like x 7
  3. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    I still need to be doing more things. I need to be taking an active role, as tempting as it would be to just take that post like "what I am doing now is fine" the fact is I am not doing enough now I don't think.

    Opportunities to directly have an impact like Roach's thing don't come often, I need to find other ways to do things but the I don't know where to start and I feel like I can't just go jumping into active hotspots of activism for like race issues or whatever because my privilege of being white etc will mean I will be looked down on and I don't know how to get involved whilst dodging that intimidation, whereas speaking alone would be speaking over the oppressed

    Also whenever I am seeing something that involves police how can I be comfortable knowing that this is evidence of an oppressive system in action, the whole system is baked into society and you see it everywhere in the media and in the world, should I be being hostile all the time, how can I handle that?
  4. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    The entire well is poisoned, really, like literally all of society
  5. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    How am I supposed to deal with that? Like how are you supposed to handle everything being a symbol of malevolent action
  6. missoyashirou

    missoyashirou Someone please give me a tiny dog to play with

    First, it kind of helps to remember that the place that's pushing the 'No, you cannot help because you are privileged and therefore you are dirty and wrong and will forever always be tainted because you cannot help' narrative is also the society that pushed things like 'It's okay to tell people to die over cartoon characters because I am that cartoon character', 'There is such a thing as bright blue moonmelons that taste like oranges', 'learning another language is oppressive and you should not talk to anyone not of your race you filthy white person' and 'you can cut a chocolate bar in a specific way that makes INFINITE CHOCOLATE WOW'. The vast majority of things are really not symbols of malevolent action, or symbols of positive action, or really symbols of anything, they're just things. And while there's skeevy shit in a lot of things, there's also a lot of not-skeevy and positive qualities of a lot of things too. There's sections of society that go to that level, but that's the most radical sections of underprivileged society.

    Good ways of helping can be things like helping with donation drives for local areas that have been through hardships (like Flint's water drives or when a school that's been through a shooting requests supplies). Keeping a lookout for things like that on Amazon or other online shops helps out a lot, as well as donating time/money to charities directly, if you do the research about which ones are legitimate and which ones are sketchy.

    Also, taking time to take care of yourself. You really can't help anyone if you're incredibly frazzled and in pain all of the time, and no one wants that. Plus you have said you've had scrupulosity issues in the past, I believe? If I am remembering that right, it would be good to take care of yourself just to keep from going into a self-hate loop that keeps your spoons so occupied you can't actually do anything to help, because you're so sure you've done wrong that you have to keep putting all of your energy towards solving what you did wrong and how to fix it without being able to take care of anything else.

    If you also want something more concrete, although it's something that takes a lot of time and doesn't have much results for a long time: voting. Get involved in your local municipal politics and vote. It's a drop in the bucket, but being out there, spreading the need to push out politicians who don't do anything to help with school violence or public shootings or crooked cops and putting in politicians who will help to fix these issues helps. A big reason why the gun laws are so rigorously fucked as is, is due to NRA membership drives that have consistence constant voting and call drives to politicians based on their gun policy records, and they have less members than Planet Fitness does. If enough people push the other way, it will help, but that requires people being willing to vote and expect to have little to no success for several years until the numbers are high enough. And when that part of you starts going in about you being an evil agent, you can respond "Shut up Segway Steve, I did my calls to Local Senator and arranged to vote for Dr. Givethepolicecamerasthatcan'tbeturnedoff, I am doing a lot, and you are not helping."
    • Like x 2
  7. EulersBidentity

    EulersBidentity e^i*[bi] + 1

    What Seebs said; also, London Antifascists on fb is one place to hear about organised rallies. You can just go and march and I promise no one will ask for your SJ credentials (just stay away from the SWP.)

    Edit: also London Black Revs organise solidarity demos with a greater focus on anti-black racism and police brutality.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016
  8. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    The "all cops are evil" thing has seriously fucked me up. How can I live in a world like that? How can I exist cogently in a world where every person or institution who even passively supports the current law enforcement institution is committing a Wrong Act? A world where I have to hate and avoid or at least want to avoid placing myself in any place or with anyone who does as such or else myself be complicit? I can't deal with it - how am I meant to deal with that!

    And it's like the whole world is fucked up and fixing at least what I can of it is my responsibility but I don't know how much of that I can handle.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016
  9. Mala

    Mala Well-Known Member

    You're not because that's completely unreasonable. Seriously, don't get your social justice/activism/opinions on right and wrong from Tumblr. Tumblr social justice doesn't care about being Good or helping or who it hurts, it cares about being angry. Everything isn't some symbol of malevolent action or wrongness. I'm not sure what the word is for the kind of thinking you're doing right now (maybe moon logic?) but it definitely sounds like a brainbug of some sort
    • Like x 1
  10. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    But if I convince myself to hold a more pleasant viewpoint towards the world then I'm condoning oppression

    I have to hate it all or else I become part of the problem
  11. missoyashirou

    missoyashirou Someone please give me a tiny dog to play with

    But if you spend all of your time me hating and fearing the world to the point you're paralyzed with despair, who does that help?

    This is a complex problem with no right or easy answer, and abusing yourself because you can't do the job of hundreds of governmental officials, countless volunteers and protesters, colleges worth of philosophers and sociologists, dedicated agencies throughout the police force itself and the entire sjw subsection of the internet is cruel.
    • Like x 2
  12. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    But if I'm not doing all I possibly could to try and do that, how am I a good person? People are dying...
  13. missoyashirou

    missoyashirou Someone please give me a tiny dog to play with

    What good does them, you hurting yourself and fretting yourself to a nervous breakdown?
    • Like x 1
  14. Mala

    Mala Well-Known Member

    @BlackholeKG Would you hold anyone else here to that same standard? Would you be that hard on me because I'm sitting here playing video games and not solving the world's problems? I doubt it. Be kind, understanding and forgiving to yourself too. Don't hold yourself to a special impossible standard because Reasons.
    • Like x 2
  15. a tiny mushroom

    a tiny mushroom the tiniest


    Okay, as someone who had severe OCD that is now under control (most of the time), I get this. I've had these exact thoughts. You hold yourself to an impossible standard because you're dirty and impure in a world of perfect people. If you're not spending every waking moment making the world better, why are you even here? How can you justify existing if you're not fixing everything? Why do you get to be happy when other people are oppressed and dying?

    Here's the thing that took me a buttload of therapy and medication to even begin to wrap my head around: you are one singular person on a planet of 8 billion people. There is absolutely no way for you to affect change by yourself.

    I used to be unable to walk through the city without having a panic attack because I would see homeless people and I would descend into a spiral of, How dare you walk around like this, with a home to go back to and money and a job and food. You should empty your bank account and give all your money to them. They should have your bedroom and your things. You're so selfish if you don't give up everything you have, why do you think you deserve anything when others are suffering?

    Like I had to fight the urge to go to an ATM and take all my money out. And having my OCD be triggered by homeless people made me feel even worse about myself oh boy.

    Here's the thing. I could've emptied my bank account. I could've given up everything I have. Except I don't have enough money to afford rent, food, clothing, education in Sydney... All it would accomplish would be one more homeless person with nothing on the streets. I, a disabled 21-year-old uni student, cannot possibly dismantle the systematic problems that cause homelessness by myself.

    Does that suck? Yes. Will destroying myself fix it? Nope.

    The world doesn't gain anything from you burning yourself out. You'll be one more miserable person in a world of miserable people. That won't change anything. Look after yourself. Do small things. Never underestimate the influence small acts of kindness can have.

    You can be happy. You can have a positive viewpoint. You are not terrible. Even people in horrible places find time to smile, play, dance, sing... So why can't you do that, too?

    You can't save everyone, but you can save some. And the first person you have to save is yourself.
    • Like x 10
  16. a tiny mushroom

    a tiny mushroom the tiniest

    Also @BlackholeKG feel free to PM me if you ever needa chat! I have experienced the wrangling of the Greater Southern Scrupulosity Skunk and I am always happy to give tips and an ear to scream at for those who've woken up with one running around their house and making all their stuff smell bad

    This metaphor got away from me
    • Like x 3
  17. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    You all are probably right of course. But the world is just so awful and it affects me badly

    I'm terrified of being part of that badness. With everything new that happens in the news I have to interrogate myself to make sure I'm not a sympathizer to what ever the daily propaganda is. It's so hard to find a grounding on what actually is right and good when everyone around me including some of the people I respect most have different opinions..
  18. esotericPrognosticator

    esotericPrognosticator still really excited about kobolds tbqh

    gonna chime in and agree with @a tiny mushroom here. this is definitely brainweird logic talking, and the specific thing that it's talking about makes me suspect that, yeah, it's scrupulosity. remember the thread where you asked if you were a gross person, and @Greywing told you they'd noticed you hyperfocusing on morality and whether or not you're a moral person? this is more of that. here's the thing: like a lot of people in this thread have been saying, you are holding yourself to an entirely irrational and unachievable standard. does institutionalized racism suck? yes. does that mean you, as a white male-passing person, are automatically an Oppressor? no. does that mean you have to interrogate every single thing you do to see if it's Right and Pure? fuck no, and if you try to do that you'll exhaust yourself beyond all productivity. nothing, if you're suffering from scrupulosity, is Right and Pure enough. fuck's sake, Josie, you're not even in the US! and I'm not saying that racism isn't a problem in the UK, because it is, but it's a different issue that requires a different focus than the shit you see on Tumblr. I mean, the "all cops are pigs" stuff? that's largely American, because the British police aren't the ones who've murdered hundreds of black people in the last year. there's more nuance than you're accounting for, is what I'm saying, and you have to account for nuance if you're going to make a cogent attempt at addressing these issues.
    • Like x 9
  19. a tiny mushroom

    a tiny mushroom the tiniest

    @BlackholeKG Yeah, considering this and other posts/threads you've made, I really strongly suspect you've got OCD. Are you able to see a therapist? Because I really think it would help being able to work with someone to overcome your brainweasels.
    • Like x 5
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