Quick question: Are you a sentient, living being? Do you think you are allowed to have feelings?
If the answer is yes to both of those, then congratulations; you’re allowed to have feelings.
Well, guess I solved that problem real quick. I probably have time to do my laundry now…
And yet, the problem still persists. It is the problem around which all struggles on the planet revolve. Human rights, animal rights, feminism, same-sex rights, religious rights, exploitation of workers, control and exploitation of natural resources, murder…
All of these things become a problem because of one small mind-set which has endured since at least the time of Roman Empire expansion; are you allowed to have feelings? Are you allowed to be an unmolested, sovereign individual with the right to pursue a life which is your own?
This seems basic, and if a person is posed with this question, their answer is invariably yes, right?
Or at least it should be. However, if we break it down, this question is at the core of how abuse happens on both the micro and the macro scale. On the micro scale it is the struggle between an abusive spouse or parent who sees their target as less than them. On the macros scale it might be a corporation or a government which sees natural resources or human life as commodities to be exploited.
When this abuse is questioned, the abuser then turns and cries about how “their feelings” have been hurt.
You see this in court cases where a young man might miss out on a scholarship because he raped someone and how dare that girl insist that she is allowed to have feelings, when clearly the only person entitled to feelings is the boy.
Or perhaps when a Church group complains about how a gay couple being allowed to marry and live their lives is “hurting their feelings” because of course, only real human beings are allowed to have feelings and we all know that anyone who isn’t straight white and Christian isn’t actually a person…
The biggest part of this problem arises when we don’t question the underlying premise behind how things like this happen. The idea that only some people are allowed to have feelings and everyone else must jump through impossible hoops of irrefutable proof in order to substantiate the existence of their soul.
This cognitive dissonance leads to a situation where the abused person accepts their “lesser” status and tries to live within the confines of not being allowed to want better for themselves. They make themselves less in order to please the abuser and perhaps be awarded the scraps of dignity which the abuser may choose to bestow, or not.
We become our own slave driver. We self-flagellate. We are soaked in the idea that we are not worthy of basic needs like respect and sovereignty.
If an abuser can implant the idea that their victim deserves the treatment they’re getting, then they can continue with impunity and the victim will start policing themselves on behalf of the abuser.
But one person’s feelings do not negate or undermine another’s. This isn’t a competition to see who is worthy of living.
Water pollution, detainment camps, minimum wages, school shootings, incels… All of this festering cesspool of shitty actions and attitudes are built upon the lie that you are not entitled to be angry, or hurt, or to question your treatment.
As a society and a global community we need to reject this mindset. This is the mindset which keeps nations in poverty, enslaves minority groups, allows for misogyny, enables discrimination and culminates in the murder of innocent people.
So I’m going to ask you again: Are you entitled to your feelings?
Because you need to believe it.