Too good to be true. Ever.

Today, BuzzFeed published a letter from a rape victim to her aggressor1,2. A warning, it is quite disturbing to read. And disturbed is just how I felt after finishing it, not only because of its contents, but because it got me thinking about another phenomenon that I’ve experienced much closer to home.

There’s a certain adult in my life (who shall remain nameless) with whom I’ve occasionally tried to bring up issues of social justice such as the one underlying the case mentioned, and the interactions would generally go as follows: I would express my feelings of dissatisfaction with the way a certain area is being handled in our country be it rape and victim blaming, race relations, support and education for the poor and disadvantaged, bigotry toward the LGBTQ community, or some other topic to this person, and although they3 never made any statement of disagreement, within seconds they would quickly dismiss my “idealism” as naive, uninformed, and, most discouragingly of all, utterly impossible. I won’t deny that I haven’t seen much in my short lifetime, but it seems to me that the group of people who are dissatisfied with the mainstream mindset toward these issues and those who express hopes for changes in that mindset don’t overlap each other perfectly – far from it, actually. That is, the adult I’m talking about is definitely not alone in their belief that the “system” is unchangeable and that we should focus on protecting ourselves from symptoms rather than attacking causes.

To me, this outlook seems depressingly bleak. I’ve written previously about my general optimism about people’s abilities for critical introspection, but the fact that people feel the results of their deep thought are meaningless, that their ideas lack efficacy, doesn’t sit well with me. After all, societal norms and ideas are ultimately made up of individual actions and thoughts, so while one person’s beliefs don’t necessarily change anything, discussing and advocating for those beliefs definitely has the potential to do so.

I haven’t done a lot of thinking about this efficacy deficit beyond what I’ve expressed, but what do you guys think? Do you know anyone like this or do you feel like your well-considered opinions sometimes aren’t worth expressing? The discussion is, as it should be, open.

1 This is related to the Stanford case that’s making national headlines – a lot of them. I avoided getting into my thoughts about the case too much because that would require a whole separate, very opinionated post. I’ll just say this: I hope that, after being hit over the head with these kinds of stories enough, people won’t be forgetting this issue after a news cycle or two.

2 Props to BuzzFeed for its attempts to grow into a legitimate news source.

3 Also remaining genderless. No, I’m not that uneducated or careless.


One thought on “Too good to be true. Ever.

  1. I’ve been told too, from certain adults in my life, that my viewpoints (which I daresay are fairly similar to yours) are “too naive,” that once I’m exposed more to the world, I’ll come to see that things can’t be so easily changed, are much more complex than how I see them, etc. But at the same time, I’m a little more optimistic: I think that though it’s certainly not perfect, “the group of people who are dissatisfied with the mainstream mindset toward these issues and those who express hopes for changes in that mindset” do overlap quite a lot. That gay marriage has been legalized in the 50 states (though certain states apparently do not understand the concept of the supreme law), that the BLM movement has been an integral part of (well, just the Democratic candidates’) platforms, that you shared this rape victim’s letter and that so many people are standing behind Kesha, Amber Heard and countless other victims, shows that SOMETHING has changed in our mainstream mindset as a whole. Taking a step back from all the mess that is our political climate, we’ve made significant changes in the very foundation of our system. Change begins with a single voice: that you shared this letter amplifies the voices of rape victims everywhere, and gives them confidence in sharing their own stories because SOMEONE (you) believe in them. And when more and more of society is aware of the problem AND speaking about it, we generate change, one step at a time. Change is seen as something radical, something impossible, but if we don’t start somewhere, we won’t get anywhere.

    Here’s what I think about the efficacy deficit: I think that problem has more to do with with a person’s surrounding than anything else. As Democrats in Texas, we tend to think, “Oh, there was no way Wendy Davis was going to become the governor,” or “Gotta keep my political viewpoints to myself or else I’ll get targeted.” But there’s actually a huge percentage of Texas Democrats, but because of their belief that their vote doesn’t matter, they don’t vote, they don’t express their opinions, and therefore they help amplify beliefs contrary to their own. (And vice versa of course: certain friends in our group never talk about politics, you’ll notice, because so many of us are passionately liberal.) Then again, another part of it has to do with the total bullshit our Congress has become — we literally can’t do anything because they don’t do anything. Damn you, Congress, and I hope some of y’all never get re-elected.

    The system has changed (for better or for worse) so many times before us, to address the dissatisfaction of the people. And the more people who become dissatisfied with our current system and the more people who will make their opinions about it heard, the more likely change is possible.

    What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

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