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Check in your privilege at the door
Posted by Tony on 9th March 2017 at 12:53:46
White ✓ Anglo ✓✓
Male ✓
White collar ✓ Media savvy ✓✓
Mobility ✓ Much travelled ✓✓
Senses ✓
Cognition ✓
Optimism ✓ Emotional stability✓✓
Health ✓
Housing ✓ Independent living ✓✓
Educated ✓ Qualifications ✓✓
Solvent ✓ Continuing income ✓✓

So how can I claim to be anything more than sympathetic to those who are not so privileged? How especially when I avoid demands for charity?

Beyond slight deterioration in some areas due to age and having previously lived closer to the edge in a couple, there is space inside a healthy mind to disguise many alternate realities. And some of those can be as unacceptable to the dominant culture as would, for example, be aboriginal women reclaiming sovereignty. While they aren't yet areas for day to day activism, I make no secret of my desire to dramatically reign in industrial scale processes, nation states, monetarisation, schools and jobs (but not learning and work, nor socialisation), safety obsessions and the Rule of Law.

No matter how loudly I try to proclaim it, my most significant "hidden" internal deviance is that for over 30 years I have seen the world through the framing of complex systems, a framing which exposes the absurdities of much "conventional wisdom". So I celebrate and promote diversity while decrying nonsense appeals to and for leadership. To make the challenge greater, and I have presented about this a couple of times, it seems everybody who comes to complex systems tries to frame it within their prior perspective. I'm certainly not claiming that none of my own prior thinking has survived this enlightenment, but one benefit of not being so successful that you have to defend your old ideas is that I have been able to remain open to evidence. In areas as critical as recognising the overlap rather than a boundary between order and chaos through the evidence of my own research program, I've been able to change my mind without losing anything.

So how do i reconcile my insistence that Reconciliation, Treaty, Sovereignty, Genocide resolution needs to be led by indigenous people with my reflexive anger at hearing a Q&A panelist nominally selected to address aboriginal women's issues insisting that they need more legal intervention by the occupier state? This is but one aspect of the problematic of how to be an ally of your local indigenous people, a challenge you immediately fail if you come to the question assuming your, oft unadmitted, privilege will be helpful. This was amplified for me by a suggestion that infant mortality was an objective measure of disadvantage, an assertion which reacts negatively with my view that infant mortality in privileged communities is artificially depressed below morally defensible levels. But all that depends on us being recognised as but one more animal species, a truism which doesn't sit comfortably with race-based concerns.

I try to escape some of the most confronting conventional wisdom by socialising with atheists and the techno-positive subculture that comes in a few flavours, but they too can become obsessed with dead ends. Already this year there has been more evidence of systems thinking coming via local environmental groups with two biggies demanding follow up priority. Worse, I'm well aware that at best our minds might enable us to successfully jump two steps ahead when neither single step looks achievable, but any more than two is fraught. Yet right now as years left shrink ever more rapidly, I feel pressure to try to jump a dozen steps to the point that bringing forward the crash gains increasing appeal. To have lived here and now is a privilege I can't escape any more than I can escape the desire for a long term future for those who might follow, regardless of the degree of difficulty our collective profligacy has burdened them with.

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