“It is often easier to become outraged by injustice
half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.”
Carl T. Rowan
“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” Thomas Paine
To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform.” Theodore H. White
I recently heard someone discussing oppression and they became quite animated as they discussed their viewpoints. I considered this topic in light of the world. All countries have their own ways of cruelty and tyranny. I was amazed at the other terms covering the meaning of oppression. Subjugation and persecution also fall into this category. Likely most of us might say we don’t persecute anyone nor subjugate any person.
Although on the surface this is likely true, somehow it gnawed at me to consider this a bit deeper. I focused on the word harassment because it also falls under the term of oppression. Now that is a controversial thought because just about all of us have harassed someone to some degree. Perhaps we have done it with words or actions or both. When we are angry with someone we tend to minimize what they have to say or ridicule them in front of others. Anyone who is not a quick thinker nor fast on their feet is fair game for an onslaught.
We likely don’t consider this cruel and we excuse ourselves of blame. After all, if their opinions are any good then they can offer them just as we did. Again we are not considering that we might have come to the occasion prepared for battle while they came and were innocently ambushed. I can understand that many times when we are hurt we let it fester inside of us for a while until we get the opportunity and immediately seize it.
People want their own way
Previously I would never have considered this cruel but I appreciate that it is possibly falling under persecuting another individual. Harassment is seen throughout society. People who want their own way in anything or everything simple become tyrannical in their manner. Husbands and wives may play this role when it suits them, in order to have their own way. Kids at times coerce their parents into obliging them against the parent’s better judgment. Coercion is another form of persecution and oppression.
I honestly see this now as dominance in negative ways in order to achieve our own desires. Parents may continually subjugate their kids with fear. Threats of physical punishment send a clear and powerful message. Intimidations in the form of scare tactics and emotional threats also work even better on innocent children. Perhaps we don’t consider this so much when we are under so much pressure ourselves and anxious to just get through the day.
Bullies are those who harass, intimidate and oppress others. Any person or child who is afraid to speak their mind is being bullied. Swaying others to think or act the way we want through the demand of threats is another form of oppression that is called. In the animal kingdom, the strongest fastest and smartest animal rules the rest of the group. In the human kingdom, we pride ourselves at being above all of that. We choose to rule for the betterment of all. We respect the young and the old and allow everyone to have a say. On the surface, this sounds awesome but if we don’t really abide by these rules then perhaps we are kidding ourselves.
I suppose it was my searching for the definitions of the words for persecution and oppression that led to my surprise at the rest of the meanings which we ignore myself included. Coercion is another that falls into the category and it is nasty to think we pressure others to bend their ideas. Some of these others are the young, old and helpless. Of course any person forced into a subjugation of any kind is at the mercy of another more dominant individual.
I am reminded of instances at work when we voted for simple things like what we might want in our tiny cafeteria. Those with the power decided and those without control obliged them. I never considered this as subjugation but perhaps it was. Few were asked for input on the matter. It goes far back to our childhood days of demand and receives. If we never grow out of that pattern we continue believing we deserve to have what we want at the expense of others.
I don’t think the people who have dominion over us are necessarily cruel. I am sure that most are not even aware of their oppression. Perhaps they never meant to be so controlling and basically perform like a bully who can’t be stopped. Fear anxiety and stress are cruel ways to deal with others and teach respect. That kind of respect is not respect but harassment which leads to domination. Love needs to be a part of respect.
I venture to say from my own experience that when another person shows no respect for me, it diminishes my respect for myself. That should not be the case but the truth is it does impress on self-esteem. I would encourage others to cultivate their own respect for themselves and keep it strong and untouched by the insults and bullying surrounding them. I would also hope that as much as we want and deserve respect we are willing to bestow it on others. Then we would have no need to oppress anyone.
Most of us have a lot of respect for those we admire. It is important to have respect for those we don’t admire. Respect has nothing to do with liking someone but everything to do we cherishing another’s rights to live peacefully. By not confusing respect and like we can learn how to respond to others who appear in all degrees of loving and liking.
“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.” George Washington
“People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong…Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” Thich Nhat Hanh
“You don’t have the power to make life “fair,” but you do have the power to make life joyful.” Jonathan lockwood Huie
“When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.” Joseph Campbell