Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What is Structural Violence? This is from the "USA to Uganda: Cultural Difference and Social Change" page, I did not write it. This is brilliant!

Structural violence is often defined in light of direct violence. Direct violence is an action or behavior such as fighting, killing, or physical or emotional abuse that insults the basic needs of others; structural violence indirectly deprives basic human needs through exploitation and abuse built into political, economic, and social structures and institutions. The inherent nature of and problem with structural violence is that it is so difficult to define and to grasp. Certain forms of suffering are easy to observe, but the suffering of those oppressed by structural violence is so complex and so deeply ingrained in our world's structures. Structural violence easily becomes "the way the world works" or "an unfortunate reality;" then, structures of violence are dismissed by many (knowingly or unknowingly) as too difficult to discuss, confront, or change. Paul Farmer writes: "Structural violence all too often defeats those who would describe it." Furthermore, even the victims of structural violence (and it could be argued that all are victims in one way or another) cannot entirely see how their plight is choreographed by these complex structures of inequality. Nevertheless, it is crucial to look at these structures and to break them down.

Probably the first time I ever realized I was different...

I was born in a sleepy, little port town on the Southeast coast of the U.S. The kind of place where time moves slowly, and the tea is always sweet. We attended a small, devout fundamentalist church. What do I mean by such words as devout or fundamentalist? There was no air conditioning in the summer because if "the good lord wants to keep us cool, he'll make a breeze." There was a deacon who patrolled the aisles during services with a special rod. Anyone nodding off during the sermon would receive a sufficient tap on the shoulder to return their attention to the preacher man.

When I was old enough, I began to attend Sunday school. Most of my early religious education came through that blinding inch of light streaming under the door of the pitch-black closet in which I frequently found myself placed. I was put in that closet fairly often and I still don't know why. I never understood what I did wrong, nor did I understand why I was being punished. I also never saw any other children punished this way. Clearly, I was different, to be set apart, and isolated in darkness. I was not like the other children.

Just because Aspies have varying degrees of difficulty in social situations, it is completely wrong to assume that we crave or need complete isolation. If I cannot stand to be around people, then it's only because of a lifetime of enduring how they treat me.

And, I am still afraid of the dark.

-Brian Melton