One of the hardest things about learning empathy is realizing we need to change. We may see nothing wrong with something we’re doing, and we know we’re good people, but all of a sudden, there’s someone (or many someones) in our face, asking us to stop using some words because they hurt. And that can be hard.
For one thing, we may not see what the problem is. Why shouldn’t we use certain common terms?
Then there’s a knee-jerk, “It’s my vocabulary, and there’s nothing wrong with it!”
There may be the temptation to downplay the whole thing. People are soooo oversensitive, amirite?
But if I’ve learned anything by hanging around the social justice crowd, it’s to shut up and listen when someone from a marginalized group tells me I’m doing something that’s hurting them. Even if I’m part of that marginalized group, I need to listen to perspectives other than my own. I’m not the center of the goddamned universe. My viewpoint is not the only valid one.
So I swallow the resentment and knee-jerk responses, and hear them out. And in many cases, I realize they have a very excellent point, and now I need to do the hard work of changing some things. [Read more…]