(Guest Post) Passing on Perspective

6 thoughts on “(Guest Post) Passing on Perspective”

  1. Your strength to step up to this situation is very moving. I understand the inner fear you had to feel, I grew up with grandparents who lived to put “The fear of god” into everyone who crossed their path. I still remember the “story” of “If you don’t put pants on, the ducks will bite it off !”. Truly mature response to a 2 year old running around the backyard. Your grandmother’s explaination, and history, gave very real basis for her concern and fear. She did not lie to you as my grandparents had. The point I attempt to make is this, indoctrination, more often than not, begins at a very early age, before we learn a sense of identity, and that we are allowed to question what we are presented with as “truth”. Ever get bitten on the finger as a child feeding the ducks? To follow this, after normally many years of saturation with these beliefs, we will accept them subconsciously, unless we witness an event to give us reason to question them. Your grandmother’s talk with you was to protect you from the very real fear of events of the past befalling you. The same can be applied to the people on the other side of the situation, no matter how unfounded, or miss guided. Because of their perceptions, you become the enemy, and they believe, from their indoctrination, that you are a threat to them. Perceived, or real, does not matter, the mind does not differentiate. It is a base survival instinct. An imagined threat has the same effect on us as a real time event. The greatest problem in this is that most perpetrators of this brainwashing have the ability to twist the perceptions of an event to support the “truth” they speak of, and all in the best interests of your well being.( Read: support their beliefs, so they do not have to face their inner fear of being wrong). Please do not think for a minute I claim your grandmother was talking “truth” to mess with you. She had experienced very real events to back up her story. Events repeatedly documented in history. I talk of the “Chicken Little” mentality of those that heard it from his cousin’s, brother’s, uncle’s, sister’s, niece, third removed. Yes, I am being sarcastic. In truth, the story has probably past from so many people in the course of telling, who knows when, where, and how long ago it occurred, if ever at all. Another urban legend, that used by manipulative people turns to “fact” and “reason” to attack some one “different” than themselves. I have experienced “passing” to fit in because of my beliefs, and being singled out because of my stature, lose of hair, job I perform. Even a slighted dig at my asian girlfriend because of the food she had lovingly prepared for me to take for lunch at work. I am a white, middle aged male of Caucasian decent, of smaller build, and losing my hair. I rarely enter into in depth discussions with most people these days, due to the fact, I have not experienced many people in my life that enter in to them to gain a different perspective, rather “recruit” another believer for their cause. To finish, I do not aim to make excuses, or justify their attitudes or behaviour in any way. It is at my best observations, a result of “The human condition”, and the pursuit of power and material gain over others. In short, allowing your mind to “live” you, and not being a tool of the heart, as it works best. Thank you for sharing this, I hope you find many who will support you in the future. Ross

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    1. From JAO
      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Ross. You made a few good points here, and I do think I understand what you are trying to say in terms of indoctrination. Over the years, I have met Holocaust survivors who have different takes on their experiences. One woman said that she didn’t blame the German soldiers at all for anything–they were following orders. On the other hand, the “Russians pigs had to die” for everything they did during the war. Her narrative of events was different. In an interview, one Nazi commander described his soldiers as “fading and growing weary” of the countryside firing squad assignment. He petitioned for an easier way to complete the ordered mass killings. It is implied in this that perhaps the German soldiers did not enjoy taking human lives. I know that the entirety of Germany did not bend the knee at Nuremberg. There were people who did not believe Hitler nor did they participate in Nazi racial purging. Hitler’s ability to so successfully introduce the idea of Aryanism to the German people was ultimately based upon their fear. Germany did not economically survive WWI. The people in the urban and rural areas were struggling. The Nazi propaganda introduced and continually maintained that it was the Jews that stole their economic opportunities both in the countryside and in the city. Combine this with supersessionism which had been developing for centuries in German theology, and the people themselves had a scapegoat for their misery and a divinely mandated reason to turn on a people group. The Nazis did put a safety valve of sorts into this paradigm for their own benefit. If a German did not buy into the New Germany vision and did not turn in a Jew, hid a Jew, or appeared to be an enemy of the state, then they were “disappeared” just like their Jewish neighbors. There was, however, a significant power differential in place. It was always better to be non-Jewish in the Third Reich. Fear of not doing something is entirely different from fear of being something that you cannot change.

      What I want to point out is that we are not and do not have to be victims of fear. What you describe when you discuss perception and fear is an amygdala-driven response based in the brain being taken over by the autonomic nervous system. Essentially, the brain is hijacked. You are right. This is a real phenomenon. People with PTSD, for example, suffer with this autonomic nervous system mitigated reaction often. In the case of my grandmother, her fear was real to her and most likely epigenetic. Studies are now showing that the trauma of Holocaust survivors is passed down to their offspring epigenetically. Studies have yet to be done on the well-documented Crypto-Jewish communities in the Southwest United States. A side note: One then wonders if the severe trauma of other groups is passed on to their offspring as well. Most likely.

      And this discussion sets me up to bring up the idea of fear again. We all feel it, and we all have our reasons. One person can say that we have no reason to feel the way we do, but it does not change the fact that it exists in us. Fear is a common human experience, and this fear is what allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of another person and enter into their experience, however different from our own, if only a little bit. I have been afraid. You have feared. Fear can separate, but it can also build a bridge. Confronting our fears, self-assessing, determining not to be limited by it, and building a life in the shadow of it, however, can be very costly. Many people don’t do it. The price is too high. Think of what post-WWI Germany would have looked like had the German people questioned the Nazi propaganda, lived with their fear of not surviving economically, questioned the theology, and valued the lives of their Jewish neighbors. What would post-9/11 America look like if Americans stopped and thought, “Muslims are not violent people. Nonsense!”?

      Thanks again, Ross, for the comments. The discussion I had with myself in responding to you was worthwhile. I wish you all the best.

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  2. Oh, my gosh, what a powerful, honest post. (Also well-written.) Thank you for sharing.

    As an average, obviously white woman only thing I ever have to pass as is Christian. (I’m an atheist.) When you’re a white girl in the American south, everyone assumes you’re Christian. I fought the battles in college, but it was simpler and easier just to let people make assumptions as I got older. Yet it always felt wrong.

    So I now I’m back to identifying. It feels minimal, compared to what other races and religions have endured, and continue to endure. My white privilege is, after all BLINDINGLY white. And I feel it every time I get pulled over by the LAPD and escape ticketless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From JAO
      I actually relate very much to your comment, Autumn. I, too, grew up in the South, and was taken to church every Sunday. It was always assumed that I believed what everyone else believed, and my mother’s family still believes that I believe as they do. They know nothing of my patrilineal history. I don’t know that I’m prepared for the “But the Jews killed Jesus!” speech that I’ll surely receive. There is that conflict in me. Do I even want to deal with it? And there is privilege even in my ability to ask that question, and I know it. I can choose to deal with it–or not. At some point, if I want to be true to myself, then I’m going to have to just tell the truth: “No, thank you, I don’t want any ham. By the way, I’m a Jew. That dip though is great!”

      I have escaped speeding tickets, received better treatment, preferential seating, free desserts, etc. The social bias is there. Being white in America comes with privilege. I would say though with sensitivity that for those of us who experience this privilege that the first step in achieving a greater awareness of the social and cultural constructs of oppression is realizing our own enjoyment of that privilege and what it affords us. Furthermore, we do nothing to deserve privilege other than meeting some social, cultural, religious, or political criteria. We managed to make it into the In Group for being white. I know a lot of people who have yet to understand that idea. They can’t even think that thought. When the idea is brought to them, they are offended. Their internalized bigotry comes to the forefront. This process of understanding why we can live as we do is part of self-actualization. Fully understanding that we enjoy rights and privileges that we did not earn and, achingly, at the expense of other people who deserve them because they have inherent worth just as we do can come as an emotional shock. My question was: What do I do now? I was asking as the privileged woman. My answer? Start paying attention. Live mindfully. Be awake to opportunities.

      You’re human which means that you’ve suffered in your life. You’ve known fear and oppression, too; you’re obviously intelligent and self-aware. Our privilege grants us access and often gives us a louder voice in certain situations. We can often be agents of change on behalf of those who need it the most right where we are. That is a benefit of this privilege. I am not ashamed to say that I have used it for that very purpose. So, I just encourage you to perhaps reframe your experience as a privileged person. You may not have personally known horrors, but you can advocate and be the voice for those who have. I wish you an excellent 2016…

      Liked by 1 person

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