This article makes some good points, but in doing so it misses a larger point.
The following are my thoughts on the matter
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I would particularly add something to the sixth point: You Can’t Be an Ally in Isolation.
Being an ally is a two-way street. There is no such thing as an isolated ally. Allies can only exist in a mutual alliance (of interests, of worldviews, of values, of respect, of understanding, of compassion). If you seek to be an ally with someone who doesn’t want to be an ally with you, then there is no alliance. You can only ally with those who ally with you.
If you seek to emphasize even the smallest of differences instead of even greater similarities/commonalities in order to attack potential allies, then you suffer what Freud called the “narcissism of small differences.” This is a failure of so many militant and adversarial activists who undermine rather than strengthen alliances, and so undermine rather than strengthen their own activism.
It is self-destructive behavior typically fueled by dogmatic righteousness where being right (at least in their own mind) becomes more important than promoting what is right. Such dogmatic righteousness just leads to becoming isolated in self-certain arrogance and lockstep groupthink.
Allies work together. They don’t attack each other. This requires an attitude of caring and understanding, the only worthy motivation of any activism.
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If you find yourself regularly attacking potential allies, you might want to see if you are the problem.
If you find yourself constantly attacking people and looking for what’s wrong with them, you might want to consider that you are likely at best being nitpicky and at worse projecting.
If you constantly wait for people to ally with you while not extending yourself to ally with others, you might want to rethink this behavior when it undermines your activism.
Remember, activism isn’t about you. It isn’t about being right. What it is or should be about is making the world a better place for all involved.
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I’m making a larger political point.
There are no isolated issues and problems. There are diverse areas of marginalization, victimization, oppression, suffering, etc. I see it as disempowering when people separate their issues and problems from everyone else’s issues and problems. Everyone wants people to ally with them, but not enough people are willing to go to the effort of allying with others. This is the failure of so much advocacy and activism.
Most of us are ‘victims’ of some kind of marginalization/oppression or other, for those who hold most of the power in this world are few. The lack of functioning democracy in most countries, the US included, doesn’t only impact minorities or other small demographics. If everyone fights for their separate identity politics and sees themselves in competition with everyone else, then divide and conquer will always win.
My point is that the article is missing a larger point that too often is ignored, forgotten, or misunderstood. I’m talking about the practical methods of actually making the world a better place, not just about winning rhetorical battles but real victories in the real world.
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There is a problem that has faced humanity for a long time.
The problem is less the overt issues and problems we focus on, but rather our inability to cooperatively and collectively deal with such issues and problems. If we were able to solve our problems, we wouldn’t have problems. The first problem to face is our (with emphasis on ‘our’) inability to find and implement effective solutions.
Such a simple, yet empowering, insight.
When we fight with one another instead of allying with one another, we create a world of conflict, divisiveness, and violence. How we act toward others is the world we create. The means is as important as the ends for the means is the foundation upon which the desired ends is built.
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The ten points in the article can be generalized and universalized to apply to all moral, constructive behavior for all humans. By doing so, they become more important and meaningful, touching upon wisdom that applies to all of us, not just the other person.
So, let me rephrase them:
1. Being a Human is About Listening (and Hearing and Understanding)
2. Stop Thinking of ‘Ally’ as a Noun that Only applies to Others
3. ‘Victim’ is Not (or Should Not Be) a Self-Proclaimed Identity
4. Two-Way Aliances Don’t Take Breaks on Either End
5. Moral and Humble People Educate Themselves Constantly
6. You Can’t Be an Ally in Isolation and Without Mutual Support, Respect, and Understanding
7. Allies, Advocates, and Activists Don’t Need to Be in the Spotlight
8. Those Seeking Alliances Focus on Those Who Share Their Identity
9. When Criticized or Called Out, Moral and Compassionate People Listen, Apologize, Act Accountably, and Act Differently Going Forward
10. Humble People Never Monopolize the Emotional Energy When They Prioritize What is Right Over Being Right
Now, that’s an improvement.
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My viewpoint is exemplified by Martin Luther King.
He didn’t just seek allies, but sought to ally with others. He didn’t see himself as a victim who had to wait for people with more power to save him, to help and assist him, to advocate for him. No, he sought out a vision of shared humanity and proactively took the steps to manifest that vision.
He wasn’t just fighting for the civil rights of his group, but for all people. The movement he most wanted to form was a movement to fight for the poor of all races/ethnicities, not just blacks, not just minorities, but everyone working together to make the world a better place and solving practical problems.
When you see yourself as a powerless victim, then your only recourse is to demand that others ally with you. But if you see yourself as a powerful agent of change, you realize you have the power to choose to create alliances that are greater than just your personal problems, issues, and interests.
The highest form of power comes from relationships of equality. A one-way ally with power and influence to offer help is good and necessary sometimes, but an alliance of mutually-reinforcing power and equality is even better.