There’s a thing about being an unknown. A new face in town. The new kid on the block.
Stranger danger. Nobody trusts you.
On the outset, this seems a fair assessment. Why trust something you have zero experience with? Why not test and challenge, and see who can stand up to the cruelest of storms? And really, it isn’t here where the issue lies. It runs much deeper than that, thereby making itself harder to dig out.
The true problem of this way of approaching what are effectively “strangers of thought” is that there becomes this invisible barrier between “known” and “unknown”. A kind of wall that people must somehow charge through. Which, again, one could rationally understand.
But what do we get as the flip side of this image? A city, walled in. A collection of people whom an individual inherently trusts based on the preordained bias of “these people made it in”.
This community-building practice soon becomes something much uglier: cliquishness. Which easily and quickly lead to cronyism, tribalism — and a long list of other -isms people consciously don’t like. The treatment of one group as if it is inherently of more value than another.
Any time there is a predefined level of acceptance as applied to a specific group simply for having once proven trustworthy, problems quickly arise. The most glaring of which is that those on the inside are offered unearned benefits while those on the out are withheld necessary resources. An imbalance in privilege and accessibility arise, which births more -isms for those on the outside.
“Rise up to our level. Prove yourselves,” the insiders cry to those pressed hot and hard against the wall.
But the rising and the proving will never work because the wall is inherently set up to keep these “outsiders” out. It mutes the ears and numbs the heart. It effectively tells those without the proper credentials to “eat cake” in the worst of famines.
I see this again and again. In the clash between cultures and individuals. When ideals solidify and calcify into strictures, rules, regulations, and a list of necessary credentials — there is no entrance and no escape. The in is always in and the out is always out. Change becomes stagnant. Incest is inevitable. And the world of those who remain becomes very small indeed.
The solution, of course, is to break down these walls. Assess each moment and individual with the same openness as any other. Be aware and awake. And fuck using easy fall back words like “friend” or “family” to mean “more worthy” or “worth my time”.
Yes, this is the hard road. Yes, it is a lot of work. Yes, it will — at times — hurt. But my feeling is what can be gained is worth more than is lost.
So what do you say: are you in?