Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Raising Consciousness

I have an innate anxiety built into my brain.

It happens whenever I'm on line somewhere and the time comes for a person ahead of me to pay for their goods or services and one of them has a hard time with English. I start getting nervous for the struggling speaker, knowing the frustration they must feel. Mostly I fear for the reaction of the English-speaking party, who in my experience is generally frustrated or even angry at the barrier presented. I've seen this drama unfold many times before in my life, but didn't quite fully grasp its meaning till today at the Post Office when the same premise emerged yet no conflict occurred.

It struck me that the presumption of English is a terribly destructive force in society, much like the presumption of heterosexuality: we build our entire understanding of the world upon its foundation and rarely question its fairness or applicability. Somehow this presumption justifies our anger. Should it? It seemed to me so lovely to see both parties today earnestly working through the divide to help one another. Why can't we just err on the side of empathy?

It reminded me of Richard Dawkins' exercise of showing maps of the world to students from opposing hemispheres where the orientation of north and south are reversed. He termed it "raising consciousness".

Always feels good to have it done.

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1 comment:

brad4d said...

sometimes my "awareness" even raises into collective-consciousness, but is it lowering to go into sub-consciousness?