Do you know why I admire you, Newt? You do not seek power. You simply ask, "Is a thing... right?"
- Quote from Albus Dumbledore to Newt Scamander in the Crimes of Grindelwald
I really like the above quote. Out of the whole film from The Crimes of Grindelwald (from which I will give no spoilers, because I might not be the most popular person on the planet if I give spoilers out...), this was by far the one that stood out the most to me. I see so much of Newt in myself, even though when I was sorted on Pottermore I ended up in Gryffindor.
I see the above as so relevant to me for so many reasons. It has always really bothered me about doing things which are ethically and morally right. Recently, it has bothered me how charities can have disabled people work for them, and think they are doing a great thing, yet still fund raise for causes which communities of disabled people are categorically against and distressed by. I become very distressed at upsetting people, possibly in part because I have no idea what to do when people become very upset and literally become overloaded. But there is also this part of me that has a huge conscience. I have had people make assumptions about me in the part: that I don't care, that I cannot possibly care because I don't have feelings, that autistic people do not and cannot have the capacity for this.
Well firstly what a huge overgeneralisation towards a minority you made, which is not only rather callus, but very much places you in a highly assumptive position where you are judging from your own observations and epistemology alone! (Phew, that was a rather long sentence...)
This obviously isn't just in regard to individual person's feelings, but also the wider cause for humanity and human rights. I cannot have tolerance for quack and abusive therapies and abuse hurled at autistic people. I cannot sit back and universal credit to systemically deprive disabled people and push us further into poverty. I cannot fathom a world which thinks it is permissible to families and young children being gassed at the American border.
For me, it's not taking a side. It's doing what is right, required and of the upmost necessity. The world is not made of 'sides'. If the world consisted of arguments where all debates only had two sides, the world would be a much simpler place. No, sides are for shapes and lines, not for humans. What's right isn't a side, it is the stance that needs to be taken - perhaps why I prefer the word "stance" to "side". A stance is much more nuanced in nature, yet I feel the word "side" implies everyone who takes that "side" has complete agreement with that point. A stance is more individualised and allows for our personal life experience to pierce through. It allows allies to stand with us. It also allows for multiple stances to be taken.
Power is something that has always made me very uncomfortable. I hate being in the limelight - I do enjoy my privacy. I also think, certainly in terms of academia, that those who have power do not realise that they have it. It is when we are faced with power dynamics where we are imbalanced in the negative that it can be the most obvious. I'd hate to one day to be so ignorant to my own positionality (who I am, the status I have, my background, etc etc) that I was exploiting others through my own power. I guess this can give away some of my personality, as well as a political stance. I have always been uncomfortable with humanity's equation of achieving ambitions with achieving power in many (but not all) instances.
The way in which our society is set up requires power for people to get heard - which is the ultimate demonstration of how far power dynamics are rooted into our current social structure. This is not a critique of it as such, as I cannot provide a better alternative quite frankly, but rather an observation.
Maybe a few more of us need to think if things are right before doing them, and to listen to voices which are near silenced by power dynamics... or maybe just be more reflective on who we are and what position we hold in the world? Reflection is a skill we can learn, if we wish ourselves to.
|Image description: birds eye view of pebbles on a beach|
Taken 6 May 2013