On the Importance of Cultivating Self Awareness

30 years ago I was a young idealist with big hope for humanity. Now I'm a cynic and deeply afraid that we're never going to overcome supremacy culture because too many people, including those who claim to work for liberation, are unwilling to question their own beliefs and behaviors. In supremacy culture there is an intentional lack of awareness of the self's impact on the world. Some of it is willful ignorance, but most of it is cultural indoctrination.

Our Christian supremacist culture is built on a creation story that says when the first humans became self aware they were banished from paradise and demoted to sinners who are worthless without salvation, that salvation comes at the cost of our autonomy, and that the price of claiming our autonomy is eternal damnation. It makes sense that in a culture where over 60% of people still identify as Christian we're collectively afraid of self awareness and autonomy. 

The ruling class doesn't want us to be self aware or think critically because we'll inevitably question the harm they cause us and the ways they steal our autonomy. So our churches, schools, media, and other institutions teach us from birth that giving up our autonomy (except for our agency to choose what version of things we buy) and focusing on our material needs at the expense of all others is the only way to live. 

On the personal side, self awareness can be deeply painful. Learning where we've caused hurt & harm is painful. Learning how others have suffered is painful. And culture encourages us to avoid our pain through consumption of anything that will numb our emotional state for a time.  

If social justice culture doesn't cultivate self awareness alongside social awareness, it will continue to blindly perpetuate supremacy. To be effective culture changers we need to courageously defy our indoctrination and continuously grow our awareness of how we feel, what we believe, how we behave, and how we impact the world around us. We also need to grow our awareness of everyone else's humanity, which is done through listening to people's stories and allowing our views to be transformed by them because awareness without transformation is worthless.