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The Sunday Sermon; Who is my neighbour?

Earlier today thinking about International Womens Day I tweeted this.

It might be described as human nature to seek out those who most resemble us. Groups form around shared factors, interestingly research at MIT in the 40s suggested geography as being one of the most powerful factors in the formation of friendships. Anyone who, like me, has struggled to bond with the parents at the school gate will recognize that. Having given birth within the same arbiatary time period, and living in a school catchment area is seen as a reason to share common interests, to become friends.

My life improved considerable when I decided those completely irrelevant factors were, well, irrelevant. However I know I am an outlier, for most people it is enough someone looks and acts like them. This may not matter, indeed it does not matter when we are talking about friendship groups, it does however matter when we consider whose voices are heard in the media and elsewhere.

The school yard model of friendship seems to infect certain groups, only able to see the issues that affect those like them as mattering. We have middle class feminists talking about the glass ceiling when working class women are queing at food banks, and on the other side of the divide, Fathers for Justice fighting for the right to see their children, and ignoring all the children who suffer abuse at the hands of men. Of course the glass ceiling matters, of course being denied the right to see your children matters. However if you only care about people just like you, is it empathy or is it self interest?

This is not a new way of seeming to care, while in fact only uplifting those who share your oppressions. The parable of the Good Samaritan is one most are familiar with. I have covered it before here. Perhaps International Womens Day could return to its revolutionary roots if we all considered who we classed as neighbours, who we didn’t, and why. A revolution would be underway the moment we said, this person is nothing like me, and for that very reason I will learn what oppression they face and fight to remove it. A revolution would have happened when we considered not who is our neighbour but why some people feel they are not even allowed in the neighbourhood.

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One comment on “The Sunday Sermon; Who is my neighbour?

  1. georgefinnegan
    March 8, 2015

    There are just so many points of view a person or organization can ‘recognize and assimilate’ and still be productive and effective in attaining a goal. Moreover, it’s difficult to continuously take on new issues of interest once you’ve established a focus and direction. For example, the idea that sex workers fit into feminism isn’t as apparent to everyone as you think it should be. It really takes a new paradigm of thought for most people. So, for feminists to stop what they’re doing, debate the issue, get behind that new paradigm, then formulate a new track, after a relatively long history of believing that catering to men’s sexual needs is against their philosophies, isn’t an easy thing to do. If you’re looking for words of encouragement – words are cheap. That’s something that should be pretty easy to do. If you’re speaking of action, that takes a little more. It isn’t all about what we think of our neighbors – our neighbors shouldn’t take things so personally.

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This entry was posted on March 8, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .

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