So What If It’s Not Your Job?
Posted by coffeekricket
If you know me at all, you know that I am a supporter of a lot of different things.
I don’t think it’s hard to support things when they make sense, I think it’s important, and if you’re a human living on this planet, I happen to think you have a bit of a responsibility to do so.
Gender Equality? Makes perfect sense, no reason men and women shouldn’t be equal- I support that.
The LGBTQ community? Not my business what happens between consenting adults,no reason they shouldn’t be equal.
I could go on.
However, there is one battle cry I often hear in the various communities and it’s one that makes me furious.
The cry changes depending on who’s talking, but it always starts the same: “It’s not my job to _______”
Usually, the blank is filled in by some kind of verb about educating.
“It’s not my job to explain…”
“It’s not my job to tell someone…”
“It’s not my job to educate every…”
No matter what you’re supporting, it is certainly not your job to educate people about your point of view.
So fucking what?
So it’s not your job, you’re not getting paid to do it, so what?
If you’re not willing to explain or educate people who may legitimately not understand, then how do you expect change to happen? They should just know? It’s their responsibility to educate themselves? Maybe so, but it’s also your responsibility to at least point them in the right direction or share a perspective with them if you can.
Somewhere along the way our society got really focused on personal happiness.
I’m all for personal happiness, it’s a big part of what this entire blog is about, but personal contentment isn’t more important than the duty you have the community of which you are part- whether that is a global community or a local one.
Now, a lot of the people saying “It’s not my job to _______” are the ones who are marginalized and I can understand their frustration. I get it, it is not fair for them to have to explain themselves every single day of their lives. It isn’t remotely fair at all and if I could change it, I would.
You know how I change it?
I use my privilege to say something so that they don’t always have to.
But at the same time, I think it’s important to remember that Life isn’t fair and if we want to make it a little more fair, it’s on each and every one of us to suck it up and ditch the ‘not my job’ attitude.
Saying ‘It’s not my job’ is a pretty privileged thing to say in the first place. The phrase assumes that the person or group you’re referring to has the same cultural background, the same access to education, the same life experience you do.
You don’t know where their ignorance comes from, so what right do you have to assume that if they were ‘worthy’ as a person, they’d seek the information you already have themselves? You don’t know what demons they’re already fighting or why they’re ignorant in the first place.
I hate to be that white girl who quotes Gandhi to win an argument, but he was a peaceful guy and he made a pretty good point: “An eye for the eye makes the whole world blind”. Combating ignorance with derision and withholding education, is kind of like that.
Too often I see “It’s not my job” phrases used as a way of putting down the other party. What the hell good does that do? Looking down on someone who looks down on you doesn’t raise anyone any higher and making clever jibes at one another doesn’t really help either.
I’m not perfect, sometimes I fall into mockery from frustration and sometimes I do not have the reserves to explain, but I’ll be damned if I EVER stand there and say “It is not my job to explain my point of view to you,”.
It’s not my job.
It IS my responsibility.
It’s also my privilege, in more ways than one.
I am a lower-middle class white girl with an education who lives in a country where I can enjoy free healthcare (for the most part), don’t have to worry about war (for the most part), and don’t have to wonder where my next meal is coming from. I have the benefit of life experience, of a loving family, and I’m insanely lucky in that I’ve gotten to travel around the world a bit.
All of the above gives me a voice that happens to be louder than some other voices out there. (Which is messed up)
The fact that I have voice to which SOME may listen? That’s a privilege.
The way I see it, if I don’t use that to do some good, even if it’s just explaining (what I think) are the most basic rights of a human, I am disrespecting every voice that doesn’t have the good fortune to be heard.
As an ending though, I’d like to tell a quick story:
The last two years of elementary school were when the bullying got to the worst extreme. I can’t remember a day I wasn’t scared, or depressed, or just plain miserable. In the summer between elementary and high school, I swore to myself I that wouldn’t go through that anymore. I felt that my choices were either to die or to make a stand.
I chose to make a stand.
It wasn’t some big dramatic Hollywood moment, it didn’t solve all my problems, and I didn’t magically become a confident person but I remember the first time I ever REALLY stood up for myself. A long time bully of mine muttered something derogatory to me in the change room after class and instead of ignoring it, I told her, loudly, in front of everyone, that I put up with her in elementary school but that she was a damn idiot if she thought I was going to put up with that for the next four years.
There are few things I remember as clearly as the feeling of adrenaline, fear, and pure rage I had at that moment. The rage, though, it wasn’t directed at my bully. It was directed at every single silent face in that room.
“Cowards,” I thought “Not one of you has the guts to tell her to just leave me alone? She’d listen if there was more than once voice.”
The next few minutes are a blur, I think I just left the room shaking my head, but I have never been so disappointed in my peers as I was that day.
It wasn’t anyone’s job to stand up for me that day and no one did, except for me. I promised myself I would try to be the voice I so desperately wished for that day, because no one deserves to be in that situation.
So, no, it’s not my job to educate every misogynist, homophobe, racist, etc… but I will try to as often as I can.
Someone needs to be the voice in the change-room.
Posted on July 2, 2015, in Serious Life Stuff and tagged afraid, anxiety, appreciate what you have, Be the change you want to see in the world, Community, Educate, Education is a privilege, Equality, Feminsim, LGBT, LGBTQ, Share perspectives, Stand Up. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.