I feel like people may get tired of hearing me prattle on and on about the system of injustice that seems so prevalent in today’s culture. I’m quite sure that I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that are tired of focusing on the brokenness of the society we live in. They don’t want to be constantly reminded how this country is set up to benefit them. Especially because many of them have had very hard lives. They have struggled to survive and rise above some pretty formidable obstacles. Regardless of the color of their skin, their gender, their sexual orientation or their social status, they hurt too. Yes, I fit in that category, I’m white. I’m male. I’m straight. I come from a “good home, in a good neighborhood.” Life should have been easy for me, right? (Even though it was anything but.) So why am I not tired of it yet? Why I am I not fed up with hearing about how hard everybody else has it and, by implication, how easy I have it? (even thought that is a misnomer.) My guess is that it is because I am, at my very core, a bleeding heart social justice warrior. Yes, I am a Racist too, but not as much as I used to be.
Let’s just break this down for a minute:
Bleeding Heart- this is a term that is most often used to describe a person or group that overindulges the self-pity of one demographic or another. It is a term that implies that caring that much, so much that your heart bleeds, is either a sign of stupidity, ignorance or foolishness. Like intelligence somehow allows a person to see beyond silly things like disadvantage. Often times the very same people who use terms like this will tell you that their intention is not to harm, but to help.
“If you give a man fish he eats for a day, if you teach him to fish he eats for a lifetime.”
There is some truth, a lot of truth actually, in this statement but who wants to learn to fish from some jerk that thinks you are fully and solely to blame for your predicament? To teach a man to fish implies relationship and relationships don’t often start with that kind of posture so why do we do what is least effective? Often times it is not about tough love or trying to get someone to do for themselves so that you don’t create a system of dependence that cripples them for life. If we are real honest, it’s about me not wanting to be bothered. It takes a lot of sacrifice to change the course of a life. It requires the type of love that walks along side another, not in front of or above and yes, not behind or below either. I consider myself a fairly compassionate human being and if I’m honest, I don’t know that I would be able to muster that kind of commitment if I didn’t feel like I had to; like my heart was bleeding.
Social Justice Warrior- Sounds kind of grandiose, but I’m not sure how else to put it. I also don’t understand why this term has come to be associated with only one group of people. Everyone hates injustice. It is the one thing we can probably actually agree upon as a nation, “and justice for all”…and all that. Where we run into a problem is in our
understanding of what injustice is and subsequently, what justice is. The problem is that we seem to think that injustice is an exclusive club with room for only one culture or group. We see injustice on a value scales and can’t help but argue the weight of our injustice against the weight of others’. It is as if to say that there can be only one.
Here’s the truth folk’s, this world is broken. Life is hard and bad things happen to good people. Additionally, good things happen to bad people. I am a walking proof of that reality. I guess what I am trying to say is that we all suffer from injustice somewhere along the line. But can we please just admit that some suffer from it a whole lot more than others? Can we demonstrate the compassion and maturity necessary to acknowledge the struggles that our friends and neighbors of color face? Can we admit that being gay in America is hard, sure it might be better than it was, but it’s still hard. Can we just accept the way in which our nation became our nation? I don’t know, as a human being, how I could see any single one of these truths and NOT be a social justice warrior. But here’s the difference:
I want to be a warrior for the justice of others.
I have been the beneficiary of so many people fighting for me, it’s time for me to fight for others. It’s time to step out of the happy bubble I have been given entry too and be a part of the big, ugly, terrifying world. It is time to bring some beauty to it.
This is the thing people miss:
Letting your heart bleed doesn’t mean your foolish it means you know it’s beating. Being a social justice warrior doesn’t mean that you have never been on the receiving end of injustice, it means that you have decided to put that experience to good use. So yes, I am a Bleeding Heart Social Justice Warrior and that is not likely to change any time soon.