I believe I’m finding my best voice for this time. I have to say something, and I have to say it the right way.
A sample of this new voice, which I sent a friend of mine, explains why I need to speak up.
There’s a sort of “it-goes-without-saying-that-we’re-all-of-one-mind” assumption whenever justice is discussed, and I have decided that I need to start speaking up when I’m not of that “one mind”. I don’t want to contribute to an illusion of unanimity.
I’m a passionate liberal. Any blanket characterization of “white people are like this”, or “men are like that”, or even this faith that we have an deeply engrained white supremacy operating everywhere which is the primary cause of our social problems and which therefore must be counter-balanced by all decent people — while it all has some truth to it, increasingly this eagerness to categorize and generalize is being pushed beyond what I consider the limits of liberalism. I’m trying to gently challenge this where I see it.
If people are speaking their consciences, I need to weigh in, too, even if — especially if — it is a dissenting voice.
Full disclosure, I’m still a radical liberal — more than ever, because I’m also a contrarian — and this is causing me to have very uncomfortable disagreements with many progressive friends who’ve jettisoned liberalism in favor of collectivist remedies for collective injustice. Not sure where you stand on this, but I feel that we’ve always connected on valuing the unique, the personal, the wordless and the strange, so I’m guessing we’d have plenty to work with if we are not already in perfect agreement.
You know I read way too many old books from too many times and places to get swept along by mass moods or to subscribe to the kinds of simplistic ideologies that capture the public’s intellectual imagination. It makes me a shitty rampart-stormer, and possibly, depending on your perspective, an unfit ally.
Frankly, I was embarrassed for [an old colleague of ours] because he seems more like a guy possessed by zeitgeist sentiment than a soul deeply and durably changed by a real shift of moral perspective. I bet he wanted to “stand united” after 9/11, too. I hate that shit, even (especially?) when I largely agree with it.
I am feeling very intensely Gen X.
If my liberalism and/or cynicism is not right for this moment, we can postpone our conversation.