Injustices, inequalities, discrepancies and double standards are passed off as normal – just the way it is – and people’s freedoms and rights are infringed on the basis of them not falling within the dominant class’s category of normalcy. Sometimes people are so afraid of change that they fail to realize that the “norm” is not the ideal but is actually oppressive to many groups. But when the current system gives you an advantage or stability, it is difficult to see its flaws. Even those on the wrong side of those flaws may resist change because, as the saying goes, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”
Yet the “natural order” of things is not so “natural.” Humans have created these norms through patterns of domination and strategy, decisions and actions over the course of history. If we so haphazardly and very carefully created this world of haves and have-nots, then we can create a better one. People with power and privilege are not likely to want to change a system that gave them power and privilege, so we really need to stop waiting for those people to “do something.”
One of the first things we need to do is change the way we think. If more people examine themselves, their biases, stereotypes, conditioning and apathy we can stop thinking what we’re taught to think and start thinking critically about the world around us. Critical thinking allows us to question the norms, recognize their flaws, change our behaviors and find solutions. It is crucial to transition from thinking to action.
Actions that extend beyond, teaming up with others in finding solutions that can have positive impact on a larger scale, is also a big part of re-writing the norms. It’s important to focus on things you can do rather than get frustrated by what you cannot do (right now).
This world is not static and norms are not absolute. If no one believes things can be changed for the better then no one will ever change anything. But things can change for the better when people are determined to make these changes happen.
Let us each commit to doing our part to make the world better than “normal.”