Fear not, this isn’t a blog post extolling the wonders of the 5:2 diet!
‘New’ Atkins on the other hand, spruiked by the impossibly handsome Rob Lowe… kidding, I’m just kidding!
Lately I have been feeling neglectful of this space, yet when I try to write, nothing seems to flow. I’ve been thinking about this lack of flow for a while now, and I think I’ve worked out how to articulate why I haven’t been as ready to put fingertips to keys.
I’ve been concentrating on listening, rather than writing.
As anyone paying any attention to the world around us knows, we are in quite the state of global flux.
Sexism isn’t going the way of the dodo quite as easily as we perhaps anticipated, especially in light of the #MeToo movement. Women are still ‘asking for it’ in the minds of far too many.
Governments seem to be turning towards authoritarianism and civilian protest is becoming more dangerous.
Racism seems to be spreading like wildfire rather than evaporating as we ‘evolve’ as humans.
Violence against women continues to rise here in Australia, and nothing seems to be done about it. Mess with strawberries, and the government acts immediately. Kill a woman, crickets. It’s deeply disturbing and disheartening.
The temptation to either bury your head in the sand or strike a defensive posture may be an initial reflex, but I’ve found that neither of those reactions does me any good.
To pretend that everything is hunky dory is offensively Pollyanna-ish in the extreme, and to be in fight mode continuously is utterly exhausting.
There are far too many things happening in the world for any one person to be engaged meaningfully across them all.
As a very, very small cog in the wheels of global political and social justice upheavals, I made a decision to focus on listening to those who know through experience what they’re talking about and who can therefore educate me the best.
I chose an area where I knew I could benefit a great deal from taking the time to listen:
Isn’t that a comfortable topic for a white, middle-ish class Australian?
Nothing to see here of course, I’m not racist… except that there is, and I am.
Yep, I just said that. Read more about why here.
I definitely would not be saying that without having begun to take the time to listen and reflect.
Listening takes many forms in our super-connected world. I started listening on Instagram and Twitter. I listen by following women who don’t look like me, and who have different life experiences than mine. I took advice to follow Muslim women, black women, African-American women, Indigenous women, queer women, women of colour and women I’d never cross paths with in my small orbit of Melbourne’s suburbs.
I have become a student of women including Ashley C Ford, Layla F Saad, Sonya Renee Taylor, Roxane Gay, and Maxine Beneba Clarke.
I listen by reading their feeds, reading articles they write and link to, and books recommended by these authors, educators and activists. And boy do I learn a lot by reading through the comments!
The more I read, the less I feel ‘entitled’ to speak, especially in defence of white responses to the things they share.
Listening isn’t our default posture on social media, we are quick to jump in and have our say (or is that just me?). I’m trying to do that less.
The other night I started typing a response to something that wasn’t about me and didn’t need my input, and then half way through my response I deleted it. I did this about three times with that same thread… ‘Note to self’ my brain screamed, ‘this isn’t about you, just LISTEN!’
I listen by watching a broader selection of documentaries and trying to expand my knowledge of history. Thank you, Netflix, Stan, iView et al.
As I listen, I have felt schooled, deeply uncomfortable, defensive, curious, sad, ashamed and empowered. As I listen, I realise how far I have to go, I am most definitely at the beginning of my listening journey.
My decision to listen means I have learned enough about white privilege that I don’t recoil when it’s mentioned or rush to defend myself. I understand that it has bugger all to do with work ethic, and everything to do with structural, racial inequality that’s been built up over the centuries by white people.
I’m privileged, not because I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but because I was born in this white skin. My skin colour impacts everything about the way I experience the world. Whiteness as an identity is a bit of a new concept for many of us, as we (white folks) have pompously assumed the default position when it comes to identity.
Sometimes I wonder about how I lived in blissful ignorance around issues of race for so long. Then I remember where I grew up, in the whiter than white Australian suburbia of the 1970s and 80s.
Look around at our society, and ask yourself, who has power?
Look at who is publishing newspapers and running global media empires.
Who do you see on TV?
How diverse is any locally made show on Australian screens, really?
Now that I’ve worked out why I haven’t felt like writing, I could write for days. I won’t though. Thank goodness, right?
What I want to leave you with is an idea about ratios to live, listen and learn by.
It’s not my idea, it’s not a new idea, but I believe it’s worth repeating, particularly in the context of educating ourselves about issues that genuinely matter.
We’re (mostly) equipped with two ears, two eyes and one mouth.
If we each choose to spend a little more time using our eyes and ears, and a little less time using our mouths (speaking or writing), maybe we’ll give our brains and hearts time to consider things from another person’s point of view.
Who knows what that could lead?
Jump in to the comments, let’s talk!
Let’s talk about race, baby
Let’s talk about you and me…
Got anything to say about who you listen to, what you reckon about racism or the state of the world?
6 thoughts on “Ratios to live by”
I love this post Annette! I’m trying to become more intersectional when looking for opinion, but gee it’s hard and requires some dedication hey?
I’ve recently been amazed at how as a society and as individuals we just can’t see others points of view, we stand on our digs and we all believe we’re right. Take Donald Trump for example, I’ve recently sat back and stopped my own outrage and disgust and wondered what it is that people see, why did and do Americans support him? I mean take the redneck element out and we still have good and reasonable people who voted him in.
Then I listened, and I heard him talking about manufacturing, and pride in America, and not letting China run the world… and I agreed with him! Could I put that other stuff aside, misogyny, weird hair and racism and vote for him if I had the choice? I now know I’d struggle because I want a better world and I’m tired of the coke and Pepsi choice when it’s all just bad. I’d have thought that the Christian PM in Australia would do so much better and not leave our fellow humans languishing, I thought he’d put his arrogance and smarmyness aside, but he didn’t, so I’m looking for someone who can give me hope. Like Americans how much would I be willing to sacrifice for some hope?
So, I too am trying to listen and understand, I’m learning many things don’t have answers, at least not simple ones. I still hope to see a more caring world soon.
The political examples you mention here are interesting – Trump talked about things that really matter to people (who are often overlooked) and they believed he would champion them because he’s a political outsider, and our PMs “faith” is supposed to somehow override his bad character and decisions in other govt positions.
In both instances, hope(?) overrode reason/critical thinking. Trump had NO record of helping anyone but himself. Morrison had a proven track record of cruelty towards refugees. Yet people supported them and expected them to do a 180 on their record.
I definitely want to become more intersectional in my understanding of the world too. It’s not just about me, shocking stuff!!
I hear you and I’ve seen you listening. I just today came back to my computer to try and write. I’m changing (again) and learning from my new twitter feed. It has challenged brain and my heart …
It’s good to be learning!
That’s pretty much it for me at the moment. Just stay open.
Walk on, warrior.
Interesting and thoughtful post, and I 100% understand what you mean by ‘I’m a racist’. Something I think about a lot.
I work at a uni and we teach a subject that discusses standpoint, and how it shapes our interactions with the world. Students find it very confronting to accept that luck of birth and skin colour impacts their interactions, but it’s important to acknowledge. So, yes, to your thoughts here!
What’s interesting is that we all now have the ability and freedom to engage with all the knowledge in the world, but we don’t. We follow the people whose messages align with our own. I recall Susan Carland saying she actively tries to read polar opinions but it’s very hard and confronting, and I agree. Hard but important.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to join the conversation. It’s so encouraging to know that my musings make some sense!
That course does sound confronting, and it’s great that it’s on offer. We have spent too many generations not examining these issues.
Please recommend any books/resources you think might help me in my learning.