Monday, March 3, 2014

Why Oppression Matters to The Not-Oppressed

There are all kinds of reasons, of course, and we should always begin with the fact that if I’m part of the non-oppressed, chances are pretty good that I am profiting (whether intentionally or not, profit is profit) from the oppression of the other.

But I’m thinking today of a slightly different group.  There should be a name for this group, but if there is, I don’t know what it is.  I’m speaking of the folks who belong to a group that is often oppressed but they themselves are not (or so it might seem).

Take women as an example.  That women are oppressed does not mean that all women are oppressed.

Or does it?

There’s probably a name for it.  The ‘chilling effect’ is what comes to mind, but that’s not quite it either.

It goes something like this: when a woman, any woman, is raped and it is reported publicly, chances are that report does not make a man fearful to walk down the street where the attack occurred.  A woman hears the same report, however, and at the least, becomes cautious around the locale of the event.  More insidious, though, is what we women take on board about the world in which we live: it is a dangerous place for our kind.  That kind of knowledge changes a person in ways obvious and ways not so obvious.

I think I’ll call this the ‘contagion factor’, simply because contagion is contagious.  And so is oppression.  And fear.  And violence.

Whether we like to think so or not, we are herd animals.  And what one in the herd experiences, to some extent affects the entire herd.

So why should those not oppressed care?  Because we should.  Because that’s what godly people do.  It’s what civilized people do.  And because self-interest warrants that we understand that what happens to you happens to me.

Or to put it the way some where I'm from might:  when it comes to oppression of another, yes, you do have a dog in that fight.  Just another way of saying there are no bystanders.

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