Oppression

The first topic I will be diving into might be a bit controversial and a bit difficult to digest at first. But I think it is a pattern which is left unnoticed by many (including me at first), yet crucial towards harmonious living together. Let’s make our hands dirty and get right at it.

One of the things that the people in anarchistic communities in Spain have opened my eyes to, was the theme of oppression. [Before knowing ‘anarchists’ my perception of them was to be rather violent, negative, reactive, even drug addicted people. But the ones I met were very nice, loving, caring people pursuing their own vision of freedom and harmony. I realized that the image I had from them was quite distorted by the media.]

Before, I was blind to oppression and how impregnated it is in our ‘mainstream’ society. Oppression,  the abuse of authority, by using fear or force to get what one wants, is omnipresent. It became very obvious when I was in Catalonia the 1st of October, during the referendum for independence. I witnessed the violence the Spanish state used to prevent the referendum from happening, beating up citizens who were nonviolently protecting the voting boxes. But it  can be found in the way military oppresses other countries to protect national interests, how minority groups experience racism, discrimination and feel that their point of view is not taken into consideration when the politicians form their policies, or how one of the police’s function is to ‘make people behave’ (just think of the last time you passed by a police car and see if you felt a slight sense of fear, a raise in heartbeat or a higher concentration in order ‘not to do anything wrong’. Of course they are doing a lot more than that, like protecting citizens against violence and crime. Our society is still too far away from a utopia to make it work without this ‘enforcing, supervising role’, but it is still present, and it is important to be aware of it).

Oppressive behavior is actually very much present in our daily life, and we do it more often than we realize. As soon as we have the power to make a decision or want something and we are willing to get it without taking into consideration the people affected by this decision, we already fall into the trap of oppression. When we want things in a certain way and we suspect that some people might object, if we try to change the story or hide parts of the truth, oppression is there. Or even more subtle, when we try to cloud transparency and give more importance to the outcome of the decision rather than caring for the relationship, it can be considered oppressive behavior. We are forcing the consequences of our choices upon the affected. This is not just limited to the oppression of people. The same pattern can be found in how we deal with the animals and nature, and how we can exploit them for the gratification of our desires without considering the damage we cause them. But even further, I realized that this pattern was so deeply ingrained that I even oppress myself. This was a shocking realization. There are many parts of me that I don’t like and would rather have them gone. Instead of giving it a warm-hearted and receptive ear, I ignore it or violently repress it. I force myself to behave in ‘the right’ way and all the parts which don’t match this ideal are left repressed in the dark. I was surprised to see this pattern of oppression present on so many different levels.

The thing all these different forms of oppressions have in common is that, sooner or later, they will violently get back at us, weather it is oppressed minorities that find no other way to make themselves heard than by turning to terrorism, the ecosystem that is ignored and thereby we put ourselves and other species in danger, or our repressed shadow side which makes us feel depressed and/or at other times violently lashing out at others. This pattern is characterised by a sense of separation which ‘gives us the permission’ to overrule ‘the others’ in order to get a desired outcome. Yet by overlooking the interconnectedness of the individual as a complex web in a higher system, it puts the seed for undermining its same goal in the long term.

This is why oppression is an important theme in the search for sustainable and harmonious living together. In human interactions, this oppression creates resentment, and pain keeps piling up in ourselves if unaddressed, until it explodes. But this pattern has been so subtle in invading many of our social interactions without realizing it, and causing harm we did not intended. If we aspire to live this more harmonious living it would be wise to bring more awareness to this pattern of oppression in our daily lives in order to not feed and perpetuate this existing pattern.The outer world is a projection/manifestation of the paradigm and patterns we have inside our minds, and as long as the same old patterns are ruling our inner world I am afraid that the outer world will not transition in a more harmonious direction. Becoming aware of where we oppress people in our lives can help us to shift this behaviour in empowering people.

 

If you feel like going deeper into this topic, the following questions might help.

Reflection questions

  • Where do I experience oppression in my life?
  • Where do I cause oppression and perpetuate this pattern?
  • What can I do to remind myself and stop before falling into this pattern again?
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