For those of you don’t know (and I was one of them until recently) ‘woke’ is a widely used term for people who are ‘aware’ of social and racial injustices but does being aware make them enlightened or just intolerant of the intolerance of others?
If you have a quick whiz around Google you’ll soon find this comment from David Brooks (who is an American journalist apparently):
“To be woke is to be radically aware and justifiably paranoid. It is to be cognizant of the rot pervading the power structures. The woke manner shares cool’s rebel posture, but it is the opposite of cool in certain respects. Cool was politically detached, but being a social activist is required for being woke. Cool was individualistic, but woke is nationalistic and collectivist. Cool was emotionally reserved; woke is angry, passionate and indignant. Cool was morally ambiguous; woke seeks to establish a clear marker for what is unacceptable.”
When I first started thinking about ‘woke’ I thought yep OK we need a bit more tolerance and understanding of other people because, with that, comes acceptance and with acceptance comes peace but then I read this explanation and face palmed….It would appear that, in modern parlance, woke is merely calling other people out over their ideas and opinions which the ‘woke’ collective deem as being unacceptable. It has led to a culture in which some people, who presumably consider themselves woke, criticise the comments or actions of others and, furthermore, are offended on behalf of others.
A sad example of this was the online castigation of a young girl who posted a photo of herself in her prom dress. Pretty innocuous right? Nope, because she was wearing a traditional Chinese dress called a cheongsam and she’s not Chinese which apparently means that she committed the crime of cultural appropriation which prompted responses such as:
“Was the theme of the prom casual racism” (this from a girl whose profile picture indicates that she is not Chinese)
This was followed by:
“I’m Asian and not insulted in any way. You look beautiful”
This thread prompted over 6,000 comments, some condemning and some showing support. Those condemning appear to consider themselves woke; they are pointing out that a dress choice could be interpreted as taking something from someone else’s culture without having the proper respect or understanding of that culture which is, apparently, inappropriate. If you take this theory to the nth degree then, surely, it means that everyone must stay within their own cultural boundaries in case they offend someone by stepping over theirs. Whilst I can appreciate patriotism and pride in our heritage I do find it incredibly sad that we should not be able to appreciate the wonders of someone else’s culture without fear of inadvertent appropriation.
This phrase from Mr Brooks “woke seeks to establish a clear marker for what is unacceptable” really concerns me not least because who will be deciding what is ‘unacceptable’. Is it the case, as it seems to be with advertisements these days, that if more than 0.00000001% of the population is offended then it naturally follows that the rest of the population should be offended?
There is currently a battle ranging between trans women (biological men who identify as women) and extreme feminists and both sides are gaining a lot of traction in the media because they are trying to force people to accept their beliefs by saying that, to have a contrary opinion, is offensive and unacceptable. So, to take this example, does ‘woke’ mean that you have to accept both sides of the argument as being offensive? If that is the case then where does the positive on each side fit in? Where is the place for the individual in all this?
Apparently woke is collectivist which means that the good of the society has to be considered over the welfare of the individual. That’s dangerous ground for me I’m afraid; what is ‘society’ other than a collection of individuals and who gets to decide what is good for the majority of an individuals other than a minority of other individuals? People should not be treated as sheep unless the intention is for them to become like sheep – mindlessly following popular opinion without applying their own moral standards – that can never lead to anything positive!
So, is being woke the same as being on the path to enlightenment? In my opinion, that would be a resounding no. True tolerance and true harmony between individuals doesn’t come from being offended, angry and indignant, it comes from acceptance and understanding. It’s a rare thing to be able to accept others just as they are but I believe that’s the way to peace so I will try to be awakened and not woke if that’s all the same to you ;O) x