I am seriously frustrated with a certain kind of person. This person isn’t specifically a person I know, and this thing about them that frustrates me does not make me dislike them entirely. There is a trait that some people possess in spades which makes them come across as “holier than thou” despite that fact that they are representing various causes that promote peace, equality and/or philanthropy.
What this trait does is frames an argument in such a way that I, as a “privileged” white American, am somehow excluded from the conversation. I am told that I am not allowed to comment because I don’t understand. If I do comment, my opinion is invalid because of my race/culture/sexuality and the fact that I have not experienced the same things as the self-righteous party and his/her compatriots.
This really makes me sad because I think that all conversations about controversial issues should be open forums. Everyone is entitled to share their opinion, despite the fact that it may be less informed than the self-righteous parties. If some individuals promote ignorance and hate, it does not seem productive to fight their ignorance with hatred and scorn. Negativity on the part of the cause-promoters against uninformed parties would only serve to reaffirm negative opinions. Essentially, when a self-righteous person is standing on their soapbox and shutting me down, they are doing more to hurt their cause than help it. If I were an irrational person, I would translate this negativity to the ideas they are promoting and develop a blanket dislike for their cause. Because I am rational, I tend to just dislike that individual and their self-righteous traits.
How are we ever going to reach a period of peace and understanding if certain victimized people fight so hard for their cause that they end up becoming the villains? Whenever I end up wandering into these conversations, I begin as a bystander and end as the target of a metaphorical lynch mob. And all because I am privileged? How does this help to bridge the gap they wish to bridge?
If you have ever shut someone down in an argument because you believed they did not have the proper experience to develop an opinion, I urge you to treat them as you would like to be treated. Treat them with respect. Share your opinion, but also try to understand their perspective. Just because they don’t come from the same culture and mindset as yourself doesn’t mean they don’t have good ideas.
That’s all I ask.