Everyone can agree that what happened this past week is heart wrenching. White nationalism and acts of hate disgust me. Yet, complacency disappoints me more.
Examples of Complacent Mindsets
Complacency is pervasive in people who claim to be not-racist, not-homophobic, not-sexist, not-xenophobic, not-some other prejudice. Complacency can be found in the following examples:
- The person who won’t call a black person the N-word, but says racism is practically over, or that we have come a long way and people should stop complaining.
- The person who has a black or brown friend, but is uncomfortable around other black and brown people.
- The person who agrees Trump’s campaign was hateful, but thinks everyone is being too dramatic.
- The person who won’t sexually assault you, but participates in the slut shaming behavior that promotes rape culture.
- The person who recognizes the prejudice in themselves, but doesn’t do anything about it.
Complacency breeds an atmosphere that allows the horrible to happen. All kinds of people can be complacent in different ways, but us white folks are MAJOR contributors. When I look at the lukewarm way people react to hate in this world, I better understand why God does not want lukewarm disciples.
Complacency is “uncritical satisfaction.” Complacent people live happily in the world by turning a blind eye. Too many people in our country are comfortable in ignorance, because ignorance gives a false sense of innocence. People can even try to be loving and remain complacent.
Signs of a complacent person include: defensiveness, ignoring, invalidating, disengaging, and lack of accountability. Complacency is often a side effect of privilege. If we can completely ignore a problem, then we are not experiencing it.
The end to complacency begins with an end of comfortable ignorance.
To end complacency within ourselves we must be willing to be wrong and we must be active. Ending complacency cannot be passive, because complacency is passive. We must begin educating ourselves. We must listen and engage with people different than us.
Asking one token friend or acquaintance their views on racism and other social issues is not enough to end complacency. Too many people rely solely on the few friends or acquaintances with different identities they have to learn about the experiences of others. Constantly repeating the basics of your existence to people who struggle to understand or do not desire to understand is exhausting. This cannot be your only source of education. We need to listen to many different people.
Beginning the Learning Process
The good news is there are already a lot of people out there talking. You might not be physically with them, but with the internet there are so many ways to begin learning. From there you can bring some base knowledge to conversations in the future.
I have resources at the bottom of this page to begin listening to the voices already out there. You don’t have to agree with everything you read or hear to begin understanding where people are coming from.
Ending hate cannot be achieved. However, we can become more uncomfortable with hate than we are comfortable sweeping it under a rug. We can begin to create an atmosphere that is not ok with complacency. We can begin to break down divisions. Uprooting complacency is a process and educating ourselves is only the beginning. The next step comes in our interactions with others and society. Don’t be too daunted to start the process. Every step counts.
Video Resources: Listening to Others
This is only the beginning, but it is a step in the right direction.