Kwade is a freelance writer who is always in pursuit of education. He feels every subject is fascinating and worth study.
Small Towns, Bullies, Nerds, and Ostracism
When I was a kid, I was heavily bullied. I was small, nerdy, and thought differently from those around me. With few friends to relate to, and none who were close (geographically), I didn’t have anyone to trust either. I tried to be a Boy Scout but complications with scout leaders put the kibosh on that. Being a non-religious kid in a heavily Christian small town, there weren’t a lot of avenues for support. Most came with religious strings attached, often with the expectation that I’d go back to church. To top it off, the strong religious conservative bias I heard about politics left me feeling like an outcast. The general attitude around me about those who would come to be known as the LGBTQ community disgusted me. From derision to full out physical violence, I had witnessed serious ugliness at the hands of “good people.” Worse yet, it was based on nothing more than religious or sexual preference, and even disabilities. People making fun of, or hurting someone because they’re in a wheelchair has always struck me as pathetic.
Overall my experiences with other humans left me feeling like being a hermit was truly the best course of action. I rarely made an effort to be around other people and spent my time on education and video games.
I bring all this up because it helps to understand why when I first heard the term “Social Justice Warrior” I thought it was a great descriptor for a noble cause. It conjured up images of a knight-in-shining-armor.
Learning About Social Justice
In my earlier days looking into politics, the people talking about social justice were discussing the appalling behaviors I’d already witnessed. The emphasis was on how these behaviors affect society as a whole and often hurt minority groups in particular. The focus was on co-existing in a more peaceful and loving way. The values that were held up were values I still believe in, most of all compassion for each other.
I wanted to be the kind of person who helps correct these errors in society. I still do. That’s why I write these articles. In hopes that we can bring dialog and empathy to each other.
To be a “warrior” for social justice seemed to mean having compassion for those who need support and sharing that compassion in any way possible.
Why Am I No Longer a Social Justice Warrior?
Maybe I’ve never truly been one.
Over the years, those crying out in need of compassion started receiving it. Minority groups started to be taken seriously. Society at large started to recognize the need to empathize with people who felt like outcasts. Probably in large part because all of us feel like an outcast from time to time. We realized we could relate to each other.
The problem came slowly but snowballed. I watched two growing trends from those who began to demand equality:
The first started as a lack of compassion for those who oppress others (those who arguably deserved a kick in the keister). Eventually, this lack of compassion became regarding the offender as an enemy. That evolved into vilifying anyone who doesn’t agree with every value a minority holds. Now, anyone who isn’t a minority doesn’t deserve compassion of any kind.
The second started as the demand for equality. It turned slowly into demanding preferential treatment. Where once there was a desperate need for compassion to those in the minority. Now there is an obligation to give preference to those who are most offended. Meanwhile, the “privileged” groups deserve whatever horrors are inflicted upon them.
While it’s understandable to be upset with those who’ve wronged you, or even those who don’t care you’ve been wronged, this is pushing things to such an extreme that it hurts the cause.
Compassion is critical in helping each other. The point of what I wanted to be part of was lifting each other up, not stepping on the backs of each other. We can never have true equality by making enemies out of each other. I cannot be a Social Justice Warrior when that means treating any group of people like an enemy.
© 2019 kwade tweeling