I had a conversation last night with a friend who’s recently hit peak trans. It sums up really well the things I’ve been feeling about the turn progressive culture has taken in the last 10-15 years.
An entire generation (and then some) has lost its immune system for difference, criticism. We don’t know anymore how to have intimacy without complete approval, and it’s tearing apart our communities and leaving us isolated and afraid.
If we have no tolerance for being wrong, for being caught out, then we must, for our own protection, adopt the irrational mindset that we are indisputably right about the things that are important to us. And that right there is a dogma, a fear-based religion.
When you’re dead certain you’re right, it’s simple to slide into the next phase and become righteous. You abdicate responsibility for how you live your beliefs based on your own perception of the objective goodness of them.

And I’m speaking for myself on this. I lived this way.
And I was wrong, about so many things. Not just genderism. But I’d walled myself off from being able to ever learn about the broken logic in my position. It wasn’t courage that made me a zealot. It was fear, and the irrational certainty that fear demanded I adopt.
Now I try so hard to live my activism from a fixed started point of “I could be wrong.”

HOW I perform activism must allow for the possibility that I could be wrong. So no doxxing, no censorship, no harassment or cruelty, never violence. Remember the humans I’m impacting.
I’m not perfect in this. Sometimes I make a remark I’m not proud of, mostly when I’m feeling tender and reactive myself. It happens when I fail to slow down and ask whether the potentially painful words I speak are necessary or useful.

I’m not here to score points off people.
We’re never going to be perfect, and we need to own that, and we need to allow for that in others. A lot of us fled cancel culture, the lack of perspective and mercy inherent to it. We can’t let that fear we got so good at follow us into this new, undefined, post-liberal zone.
Every one of holds pieces of the truth; none of us holds all of them. So we’ve got to do the work, learn to become vulnerable, grow a center of emotional gravity that can withstand disapproval and failure.

Being wrong must become something we accept as a constant human reality.
Embracing the fact that we’re all constantly wrong in ways we haven’t yet discovered is terrifying, then freeing. Once you allow yourself to be One Who Made Mistakes, the world belongs to you. You rediscover your curiosity and fascination of the lives of those different from you.
Now I’ll sound like every fortyish white girl in the US for a minute here, because I need to recommend Brene Brown, particularly Daring Greatly (read it first) & Dare to Lead (a MUST for activists). If you don’t know her, search & listen to “The Anatomy of Trust” to get a taste.
Our certainty (and remember this is just fear) is killing us. It’s killing our creativity, our reason, our relationships and communities. We’ve got to learn how to value ourselves & each other after we’ve acquired experience, become wise by failing. We must lean into discomfort.
We must create a social convention that prohibits the use of shame- on ourselves AND others. When we weaponize shame, we tell ourselves & others that our failings ARE the person, that our missteps define us & can’t be mended. In that climate, we can only survive by being right.
We’re not lakes; we’re rivers. Our choices and experiences pass through us but needn’t be counted as fixed features. Human beings evolved to survive by LEARNING, not by being inherently excellent at everything.
If we take on shame and fear as values, as armor, we relinquish the single greatest evolutionary advantage we possess. We stifle our potential & the potential of our species, our society. We choose the perceived safety of paralysis over the shifting wonder that’s our birthright.
We can accomplish so much when we’re united, but unity through sameness is both cheap & fragile. We must instead choose unity through courage, not aggressive bravado, but the fearlessness in knowing our mistakes don’t negate our wisdom, and disapproval doesn’t disappear love.
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