Posted by: Daisy | March 24, 2008

Enlightenment

I was having a debate with someone yesterday and I guess I feel so strongly about this, that I have to put it down in black and white. And just because I feel strongly about it today, does not mean my opinion may not change tomorrow if you introduce new information for me.

Be forewarned. You may disagree.

Her belief is that ignorant people should be enlightened. We should do a better job of telling people in other societies, communities and cultures about our ways. Let me use a specific example. We should tell others that women are treated as equals and not inferior to men.

(I’m going to get flack for this, I can tell. Here goes.)

I know that as a woman living in Canada, I enjoy freedoms and rights that I think are rightfully mine to enjoy. In fact, I think we still have some more ways to go to attempt to reach the equality balance. Having said that, I do not agree that everyone needs to be aware of this.

What I mean is that if you’re from a culture where women are not seen as equals, I do not see it as my job (or anyone else’s for that matter) to enlighten all the women of this culture that they should not accept this inequity. By ‘enlightening’ them, it is imposing our belief system on another group, and who is to judge on which system is better, or even the right one? Someone even referred to Star Trek – one of their rules is to not change the species/people they meet by imposing Star Trek beliefs. It is true. We do not know of who they are, and what they value, and why it is the way it is – who are we to judge another culture/group of people?

I can certainly judge what I know of it and say “wow, that sucks, and I would never be happy there”, however, I can not continue drawing a line to say, “wow, that sucks, and no women would or should ever be happy there”. We assume that we know better because we live differently. I am sure that there are people (including women) who are satisifed with the life they live in these cultures. Morever, some of them, may even not appreciate getting the information. Some people don’t know what to do, or feel that there is nothing they can do.

Now that you think I’m crazy, here’s what else I believe.

Some people, in any society, questions things. They are the ones who seek out to be enlightened. They want to understand the world beyond their own group. Information is available for those seeking it and though it may not always be easy, I think for those who have a will, there is a way. I believe that information needs to be relayed internally. It is not from outsiders (like us judging others), but from insiders who live and breathe it every day. They are the ones who are better able to understand their world, and therefore, the additional information the outside world can provide. There are always the early adopters in any society who seek, find and begin to make change. I think we need to let them find whatever information they need. Our only job is to make the information available.

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Responses

  1. I like the post, and wanted to add that in addition to helping the seekers, when it comes to
    fundamental human rights such as equality, we need to doggedly pursue the oppressors, not the oppressed, to bring about changes to allow people to be free. Universal Declaration of Human Rights


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