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Subtle circles of oppression

One of the tricks (or facts?) of oppression is that those who are oppressed most often turn on each other rather than the person or symbol of the oppression.  When the youngest in a family has received abuse or even just ‘rules’ shuttled down from the parents, that youngest turns to the family dog or a doll to take the oppression out on.

Years ago, I was in an airport in Texas watching a young brother and sister play with a doll.  “Are you sassing yore Momma?” the boy asked the doll.  “If yore sassing yore Momma, I’m gonna whup you!”  Hmm … wonder where that came from?

This week we went through a delayed child-to-school mourning when my daughters decided to try out “regular” school, what I call “day school”.  Actually, we went through this break-the-family-apart problem when our oldest was off in “real” Kindergarten.  We healed it over the years, and it hit my wife again this week when the girls were gone.  (They are back, and that is an ongoing situation I’ll write about later.)

The typical reaction is, they’ll get over it, you’ll get over it, it’s natural, don’t worry, it’ll all be fine soon.  During this week, my wife has been reading the Facebook statuses of a friend who’s daughter started Kindergarten this week.  This friend is profoundly sad and trying to justify/live through the feeling.  When all of society is pushing you in a direction, providing the oppressive force, the reaction is to turn against ourselves.  And to turn against those who dare to defy the oppression.  Perhaps this is an evolved response that helps glue society together?  Whatever it is from, it sucks.

One day when I was driving my oldest to Kindergarten, she said to me, “Dad, I know why we send kids to school.”  “Why is that honey?” I asked.  “So they can get used to being away from their family.”

It was in that moment, whether I knew it then or not, that I realized what was happening.  She was absolutely right.  The whole structure of prematurely ripping the family in to “at school” and “at work” is designed to benefit the society as a whole at the expense of the family.  And are we even sure this is the best way to get the benefit for society?  Scientific evidence says, “Nope, we aren’t sure.”

For most of history, kids were kept close to home until they reached a more natural place of separation.  Even leaving to be an apprentice at age 12 is much more natural than spending all day in school at age 5.  At age 12, most kids are physically and emotionally ready for that bigger world where they control their own destiny.

This week I started reading another Dad’s blog, ‘Steely Dad’, who has a great post about the reaction he has received in deciding to homeschool his children.  My first thought was, “These women are furthering the oppression without realizing they are doing it.”

The more I think on it, the more I reckon that the circle of oppression is an evolved response that helps hold tribes together.  A single or group of leaders cannot stay in control of a larger group without the consensus and active help of that larger group, including censuring and oppressing others in the group for the (perceived) group benefit.  Tribes that couldn’t appropriately turn on/reject individuals for the benefit of the tribe would soon die out, self-selecting their genes in to oblivion.

But we aren’t hunting wooly mammoths or surviving an ice age (yet), so many evolved responses need to be checked.  I could list forever evolved responses that are no longer appropriate, and hopefully we’ll eventually evolve beyond them.  One way is to call out oppression when it occurs, instead of joining fellow oppressed in putting down those we most need to support, in the hour they need it the most.