I have been thinking a lot about ‘privilege’ in our world, and what we can do about it. These are my explorations, I would love your thoughts if you are open to sharing.
The World Is Set Up For Exploitation:
We are all born and bred into a world system that is exploitive.
Most of those who are being exploited come from long lineages of trauma and are deeply wounded from this. Their pain goes beyond anything that happened to them in their own lives, and what DID happened to them is often horrific enough to be considered more than any human should have to bare.
'Privileged' folks are profiting off of the backs of those with less - and this system is so 'normal' that much of it is hidden in plain sight.
Privileged people often have no awareness of how exploitive their everyday lives are. We (meaning I include myself in this privileged with little/no awareness category) have to go looking for the truth - and culture has made it so that we are so worried about our status, appearance, level of wealth, what celebrities/governments/influencers are doing and buying - that we most often don't have the time or interest in looking.
We are suffering due to our exploitive lifestyles, and using the exploitive lifestyle as a distraction from this pain. We don't know why we are in pain, why we suffer, and we are looking to the very system that reinforces all this suffering for relief - leaving us trapped in our own suffering so much that we can't look outside ourselves to where we are CAUSING pain and suffering, and thus inflicting it upon ourselves.
We are in emotional turmoil due to our fundamental way of life, and then told that this pain is due to something totally unrelated.
We are told it's because of something lacking in us, we are told to shut ourselves down to 'fit in' - we are raised to fear 'different'- and this means being wrapped up in the fear of SELF (because, ahem, we're all different) that we have little capacity to focus on anything else. We are at once afraid of who we are, who we may be that might get us rejected and afraid to look at or think about anything OTHER than ourselves, our own well being, our own status and what we think we want and need to feel better.
We are selfish, exploitive and being exploited all at once.
We as privileged people are filled with horrendous negative emotion due to our exploitive lifestyles - due to the law of oneness, we feel the pain of SELF destruction that's coming as a result of being so destructive to others - and because we are bred to look to fix our pain through methods that only make it worse. The solution - looking to see where we are benefiting from the exploitation of others and stopping living in ways that support this exploitation - is the thing we have been trained from birth to fear and run from most. This information brings us deep shame, shame we don't have the emotional bandwidth to handle, and thus we hide it from ourselves - keeping ourselves distracted in never ending loops of self improvement/self flagellation/believing deeply in our 'victim' nature so as never to have to take REAL responsibility for ourselves.
Really looking at our lifestyles in any true way would mean accepting responsibility for the pain we are causing that we didn't know we were causing, it would mean changing, and it would mean being different. All things we fear because we have been taught that to change means we were WRONG before, and to have been wrong is the most shameful thing ever. We have been taught that to have made a mistake means to be irreparably damaged, bad, evil, wrong and horrible - thus we are unable to admit to any of our own failings.
Again, it is a loop of shame that keeps us stuck in privileged exploitation, that leaves us in deep psychological pain that drives us to harm ourselves and then feel that we are victims to that harm - not seeing that we are now the invisible hand guiding our own self destructive - and thus world destructive - behaviour patterns.
Dealing with our shame, learning that we have been trained to exploit and this is causing us our pain, and seeing that this does NOT make us fundamentally bad - is the key. Evolving the mindset that learning and growing does not mean having been wrong and bad before is everything if we want to see a world that is more conducive to human beings thriving than the one we have now.
Enter: Self Love.
People in positions of privilege like myself have to learn self love.
I know this sounds really vapid and out of left field - hear me out.
We have to develop compassion for ourselves. Our privileged pain IS REAL. Even though we are in pain due to being exploitive we are also in pain due to being exploited.
We must understand why the system we are working in hurts so much. At its core ‘the system’ is one based on FEAR - lack of information. It’s not evil - as much as we want to believe that. Rather it’s a system that’s been developed over time by a humanity that’s deeply traumatized by an existence we don’t yet understand.
The roots of exploitation are found in our fear of isolation/our lack of awareness of how to thrive. The abuse we see in the world today can all be traced to a humanity that’s still very much in its cognitive infancy.
Those of us in positions of relative material privilege have been prayed upon. The emotions we feel that are there to try to move us FORWARD in our consciousness have been hijacked and used as tools to sell product.
What happened was a small group of people got to a place of material wealth in the late 1940'2 that humanity up to that point truly *thought* would make us happy - and instead of that, we entered into a time where strange emotions/thoughts/feelings began to emerge in those in positions of wealth. As our basic needs were being met, as we were finding relative comfort and security on the physical plane - we then had room for the next level of awareness to come forward - the awareness of our emotions/desires/expressions that went beyond physical survival - this is all in line with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. This was the next evolutionary step for humanity to take - to go beyond physical survival to reaching for higher states of self actualization through higher levels of alignment with ultimate and relative truth.
When material security didn't lead to bliss but rather opened a whole new can of worms within our awareness, rather than understanding we needed to move into SELF EXPRESSION, we doubled down believing that MORE material wealth was the answer. Arriving at this place of material wealth had been done through exploitation (think slavery, abuse, dictatorships, wars, stealing resources etc), and ‘the system’ kept rolling this way. Those at the material ‘top’ continued to exploit those at the material ‘bottom’. This evolved into those at the ‘top’ using the pain of those in the ‘middle’ - that group that had achieved relative physical abundance who were starting to have emotional/mental awakenings - to maintain a system that deeply abuses those at the ‘bottom’ through telling them that they could BUY the peace and happiness they were looking for. That they could purchase the fulfillment they thought simply having material success was going to bring them. That it wasn't the fact that they needed something MORE than physical resources to feel good at this point, they just needed MORE PHYSICAL RESOURCES that were being labeled in new ways. This was a massive turning point in the 'capitalistic' system we had used to become so materially successful to that point. Goods started being sold on the basis that they could provide self expression. That they could be a part of defining who you were, helping you to 'fit in' to groups and be liked. Goods became status symbols that attempted to meet the growing need for deep self reflection and expression that had been awakened through material security. Goods were no longer sold based on their utility, durability and sustainability as they had been up to that point, they were now being sold as the keys to this new awakening - which in true reality they could never be. This allowed people to continue believing that one day this whole thing was going to lead to happiness - that they would be able to get to a place of having enough stuff that 'represented' them, that they would feel FULFILLED by their things, not just materialistically secure. In reality,
NO ONE is benefiting from this system, in the sense that those who have relative material abundance need to be stepping into higher levels of expression and aren't because they are continuing to believe that their satisfaction can be purchased - leaving these people in a 'hungry ghost' situation where they are not getting their needs met. In this situation we see the cycle of addiction - the purchasing of a product meets the need for self expression in a very minute way - and because most people have nothing BETTER to turn to in the way of self expression - they are trapped over consuming. The need for self expression isn't going away - it's a need. To stop buying things would leave a hole - it wouldn't lead automatically to healthy self expression. Thus, to stop guying things would feel WORSE for those who have no other avenue of self expression available to them in their current level of awareness, but this consumption meets the need in such a weak and superficial way, we have become hyper dependent upon it. Thus, we buy, buy, buy - getting our need met JJUUUUUSSSSTTT enough to be fooled into thinking it's working, but that we just need more. More. More. This of course leads to deeper and deeper exploitation of those at the relative 'bottom' who are the ones having to sacrifice their needs being met so that we in the middle can over consume goods we don't need.
The ‘top’ people are so caught in the trap of believing happiness is going to come from material wealth that they are unwittingly being consumed by it. Those in the middle are being told that their emotions are invalid/due to lack of inherent worth - then being told that that worth can be bought. Those at the bottom are being held there by the fear of everyone else.
Acceptance = Life, But Acceptance Is An Ever Moving Goalpost:
Along with this, the idea that to be 'accepted' = life and to be rejected = death has us in a never ending loop of fear and distraction. In the context of our current society, being accepted/rejected and the fear of being rejected is based on becoming the 'other.' We are fed the idea of the 'other' and all the fears that come along with being the other basically from birth. We are taught that to be the other means that we then won't have enough resources to survive - and this idea is the secondary factor that makes the truth so obfuscated.
We are constantly being sold the idea that there aren't enough resources on earth to go around, and that it's the consensus of the most dominant 'group' of people who decides who get's what they need and who doesn't. Thus to be rejected from the 'group' in any way is seen as being a threat to survival. We are kept chasing the carrot on the stick of 'acceptance' through constantly changing 'trends', ever evolving cultural dictates of 'good' and 'bad', 'right' and 'wrong' - and the war for dominance of different people groups. If we were to believe that we have enough in this moment - that still won't settle our fear or drive to consume - because of the ever looming threat of what we have becoming not enough (due to 'enough' changing all the time) or what we have being taken from us from 'them' somehow.
We are kept from ever truly getting to know who and what we are at our cores - from ever having to FEEL the existential pain/turmoil of questioning reality itself, worth itself, value itself, what makes us feel good/bad, and from expressing this core self - this UNIQUE core self - because we are kept continually distracted by the idea of 'not enough'. Fear of what we have going away and the idea that fitting in is the MOST important thing, is a huge part of what keeps us consuming at the rates we are consuming. In order to keep exploiting at the rates we are exploiting and never questioning it.
All of us in our childhoods and beyond experience moments of self expression that are met with shaming/withdrawal from those around us. Again because we are a culture that has not realized yet that what we need most in these times is DEVELOPMENT of what it means to be human - we are caught up in trying to stay the same. We fear change, difference, growth or expansion because it's unfamiliar. This unfamiliar nature of growth scares us because again we are deeply caught up in a survivalist mentality that we have technically outgrown. In order to keep us buying things we don't need, there has to be an element of fear/lack added to the mix. We need to be believing that there is scarcity where scarcity doesn't exist in order to purchase things beyond our actual need - and this scarcity is sold to us now a days in many different ways. It is sold to us through divisiveness - racism, sexism, xenophobia - all forms of 'othering' that then allow for the argument that 'they' are going to come and take 'our' stuff - so beware. We are trained to believe that to be different is to be rejected, because we are trained to reject anything that is different out of believing that that which is different from us is competition for the resources that we need/that are scarce. We are trained to be ok with exploitation due to having the underlying message be 'SOMEONE' is going to have to go without, because their isn't enough for all of us, thus it's better that 'they' suffer instead of 'me.' And 'they' are whomever you culture of reference tells you 'they' are. Your religion may tell you who the 'they' are. Perhaps it's your genealogy. Perhaps those who fit into your same sexual orientation/expression. It may be your country of birth.
Most likely, 'you' don't even fit into the current dominant group, and thus constantly feel that YOU are the other, desperately trying to get yourself 'in.' This is a major issue. Even those who should technically feel that they are 'part' of it - like those of us with upper middle class economic status - are constantly being fed the idea that we aren't enough, or that if we are, maintaining that enoughness is something we better stay on top of lest we lose it. We are CONSTANTLY looking outside ourselves to see how we are being perceived, with this ever elusive threat of being cast out looming in the background. Those of us in the upper middle class have become like politicians - on a never ending hamster wheel of public relations - 'did I do good enough today? Do people like me? Was I on trend enough? Was I nice enough? Did I help enough people? Do I look right? Sound right? Am I thin enough but not too thin? Pretty enough but not so much that I intimidate? Do I have the socially acceptable opinions, expressed in the most politically correct way? Do they like me? Do they really, really like me?!'
Consensus Reality Obfuscates True Reality
Due to the fact that we are being cut off from OURSELVES as we resist personal expression in exchange for consumerism, we feel less and less connected to life itself - the REALITY of reality. We feel more and more lost, more and more disconnected, empty, searching for SOMETHING, anything that will fill that void that seem to be growing ever deeper and wider within us. As we shut ourselves off from personal growth and expression - and are told that if we are to pursue being who and what we are, that we will become that freak that no one likes. We are told to be ourselves, but not like that. There literally is no winning in this system, no way of seeing others as other without also being an other, no way of seeing scarcity without also feeling that what you have may go away, no way of looking for consensus reality/acceptance without being on a never ending treadmill of unreality that is purposefully changed to keep us looping.
This search for being good enough via being acceptable to a culture that is purposefully divisive and ever changing is killing us, and it's allowing us to kill others without being aware of it/willing to keep doing it even if we are aware because we believe we are saving ourselves.
We have to recognize that by buying into this system of otherness, of stuff giving us meaning, of culture dictating to us what is right and wrong, who is other and who is us, and ultimately buying into the idea that we are fundamentally unworthy - we are staying immature children.
We are doing it mostly because on the heels of all of this, we then have a culture that allows us to avoid any existential crisis we may be facing internally. This drive to over consume and the exploitation that is required to keep this system going is fueled not by a ruling class - but by US.
Those who are participating.
Because we WANT a culture to tell us who to be and what to do.
We don't want to have to face those shadows within us that surface when we have material abundance. We don't want to have to look at where we are causing pain, where we may need to grow and shift, where we thought life worked one way only to discover it works in an entirely different way. We don't want to have to face our pain, and figure out for OURSELVES why it's happening and what we need to do about it. We don't want to admit to ourselves that humanity, to this point, DOESN'T have it figured out. We would literally rather believe in an evil ruling class - which if you REALLY look at humanity, is clearly FAR beyond the intelligence levels we have at this point - than to simply believe that no one has it 'figured out' and everyone is just shooting in the dark - creating systems where systems don't actually exist, not seeing the TRUE systems because the real systems (reality itself) is more complex than we are able to see in this moment. We don't want to have to admit that we don't have it figured out yet, that we don't know, we don't understand and thus have to LEARN things we don't know. We are afraid of the unknown more than anything, so we want to believe with everything we have that someone/something out there has it figured out, and if we just follow the leader (whomever we decide that leader is) we will have success/happiness/freedom from our suffering. This pattern is repeated in religion, new age spirituality, diet culture, health culture, medicine, school, government - all institutions that we look to for 'answers' to our pain. It's all the same shit, dressed up in different costumes.
Groups of people who don't have it figured out, who are willing to say they do in exchange for the resources/approval of those who look to them for answers, which gives them a false sense of security - and those looking for the answers are willing to give away their power/resources for the sense of security of following the leader.
Round and round it goes.
We stay victims to the system on purpose, because the system answers so many of our questions for us. We are told how to live - and some see that as 'manipulation' where others who are wiser see it as something those who don't want to have to figure life out for themselves ask for and willingly participate in. When we have a system willing to tell us how to eat, sleep, work, what is valuable, what isn't, how to dress, who to marry, how to talk, walk and what is and isn't proper expression - we then don't have to figure out ANY of these things for ourselves. We don't have to do the hard work of personal discovery/figuring out how life actually works for ourselves. We don't have to learn about our own bodies. We don't have to learn about Natural and Universal law. We don't have to figure out who and what we are, how we need to live in order to get our needs met and what our need are. We don't have to expand into greater awareness of truth - stretching our current paradigms and belief systems past what we have been told to believe our whole lives/what everyone around us believes. We can just differ all of that to culture - and the culture will tell us what to do.
It's a two way street.
We as consumers are not being exploited in any way that we are not agreeing to.
The media can't 'make' you do anything - heck, they can't even make you watch their ad.
Advertisers can't make you believe things.
Governments can't make you fearful of other nations.
Religions can't make you fear other sexual orientations.
It doesn't matter how much money a person, corporation or entity has - no one can MAKE you do/think/believe anything.
We need to wrap our minds around this. Even if they have human psychology dialed in, even if the ads are direct and hit all the right emotional points, even if the media lies and tries to manipulate - anyone who chooses to think can be free of the lies. Anyone who chooses to shut the computer or quit watching the T.V can stop being exposed. We don't have to participate. Not at all. We don't have to be manipulated - but if we want something different, we have to be willing to do the one thing no one wants to do - to take full responsibility for ourselves. To see that no one can make you do anything, and thus all of your life is truly your choice.
If you are going along with anything culture dictates to you, you must understand that at the end of the day you are CHOOSING to do this. No one can make you. I know this feels really hard to think/believe - and no one is saying that breaking away from the cultural dictates you were raised with is EASY. The truth is, you were raised in this, and you have been shown no other way - so of COURSE you think you are a victim/that this is all there is/that thinking is scary.
But just because it is difficult doesn't mean it's impossible, and it doesn't mean you aren't choosing.
This is a massive part of why the system has yet to be dismantled. We don't want to have to look at our dependency on it, how we are feeding and buying into it, and we don't want to face the hard, existential work of growing up required to figure life out for ourselves - to the degree that we no longer rely upon culture when we are scared, lost, questioning and facing the unknown. We are not wanting to look at how we simply defer to self improvement, buying things, numbing and stimulating - looking for validation and approval from the system any time we face a hard or uncomfortable emotion/thought/feeling/desire we don't know how to express/meet.
THIS is a massive awareness that we are fighting to see. We are not victims. We are willing participants in a system that suppresses us, because it also protects us from having to think critically or figure things out for ourselves.
We in the middle are being held back in our evolution due fear of not being good enough.
Yes, we have been victimized, but as adults, we now have to take responsibility for the fact that we are willing participants int he victimization, and the exploitation that causes us to participate in.
It's not our fault - we didn't invent the system, we didn't make it so pervasive, we didn't choose it to begin with.
But it's our responsibility now to end it. To grow up. To stand up. To be different. To face those emotions, thoughts and feelings that are painful - that are telling us we are out of alignment with reality - and to figure out what reality is for ourselves. We have to be brave enough to stop defer to culture, to stop playing follow the leader or pleading victim - and to see that we have the power to change this for ourselves, if we are willing to take full responsibility for ourselves, our pain, our pasts and what we are going to do with our lives moving forward.
In the next post, we will talk about why self love is the first step. For now let this settle.
You aren't ding anything wrong and you aren't bad. You were raised to believe all of this. It's not your fault. Compassion is key. From there, you will be able to move mountains. Remember - taking responsibility is not synonymous with accepting blame. These are two different things.
It's not your fault.
But it's your responsibility.