Tales of Two Under-Cultures 6


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With cold, clear eyes and a warm, loving heart.

We embody our culture. Each of us in our unique way.

Our culture is many things in many complex ways. One of them is that it is very oppressive.

You embody that oppression, and so do I. In your mind you might agree with that statement. However, in your gut and in my gut neither of us want to know it (and yet we do). We do not want to own being a villain, nor being a victim (and yet we do). Owning it by seeing it with cold, clear eyes is a piece of work.

At the same time you can see and even experience me when I am mean or being a victim. And I, you. It is easy for us to talk about these things to others, but not to each other, face-to-face.

The only way you can get out of your oppression is to be able to reflect on it when you are feeling it and acting it out. Yet,  you can not do this by yourself. You need me and others to be seeing your oppression and pointing it out to you. And I need you and others to be doing the same with me. All of us need as many of us doing this together. And always accepting failure. Always. This can be the beginning of a new kind of culture.

We can’t help each other out of our shared oppression unless we own it, and help each other to own it. We have to be ruthless with ourselves on this point. At the same time: we can’t help each other out of it unless we are kind and gentle with ourselves about it. Punishment is oppressive. It may be many other things as well. Indeed, reality is always many things intertwined in many ways. No matter: punishing is always oppressive.

We can not undo the oppression we have received from our culture unless we undo it in ourselves. And: we can not undo it in ourselves unless we are undoing it in our world, situation by situation, relationship by relationship.

This is very, very hard work. It takes a lot of skill and loving, and the rest of our lives. And it has to be a source of joy as well. It all adds up to a new kind of culture emerging within the old.

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