I truly wish there was a way to bypass language and this keyboard and just spill a raw understanding of an idea itself onto the page for you to absorb. Language can be so tricky, and is so very subjective to misinterpretation and misunderstanding, and there is nothing like the understanding of an idea that you develop yourself that will stand as an imposition to achieving a more accurate understanding. It’s a catch-22, of sorts. You try (or don’t try) to glean meaning from what others say or write, but in the end all you can take away is what you are able to comprehend, and that is based entirely on the meanings that you ascribe to certain words. That idea, that meaning born of your own interpretation, becomes your reality as you see the message, and will scuttle any desire to dig deeper and step outside of your own paradigms, prohibiting you from actually gaining an understanding of what is being said or written in the first place.
The mutable nature of language is a trait inherent to communication that impacts us all, but its existence is not limited to language. Interactions between people, free of language altogether, are also plagued by misinterpretation. Racial prejudice comes to mind. As is the proclivity toward imbuing those around you with your own personal characteristics. If you tend to view a particular race negatively, when you talk about that race you might assume that those around you are already on the same page. Worse yet, you may just assume that they process information in the same way as you do, in your own pathetically simple way. The truth is that they have their own pathetically simple way, charted by a lifetime of such interactions and ideas. You have to step outside your own mind and try to generate a picture of the neural channels diverting and directing words into feelings and meanings within that individual. Not everybody can do that, and those that can might just as well say “to hell with it,” anyway.
Not me. I am not an individual. I am not a fixed collection of experiences that dictate the meaning of the words I hear and read. Apart from the speakers or the writers I merely exist. The hum of being, the internal monologues, the imagined conversations, the internal conflict and dissent; all of it is quelled and without inflection in the absence of others. I am, when I am anything, an extension of the group, an affectation of group membership. I am a chameleon.
I breathe, time passes, and here I remain. I am a father, a brother, a son, a soldier, a professional, a dreamer, an idealist, and a steaming hot mental mess. And yet I am none of these things. I am chemical reactions. I am cause and effect. I am caffeine in the morning, downers at night, and basic rhetorical interactions in the interim. I function, and time passes.
To have no color or shape, to be liquid or gaseous and crystal clear, is to find that you fill whatever container into which you pour yourself and assume its shape and color. You can fit into any mold, or many molds at once, but once the mold is removed you flow onward, colorless and shapeless, toward the next great mold. In between shapes and colors, while flowing freely and invisible to passersby, what are you in the absence of a mold? You just are. You’re an observer, a watcher, a sponge for vicarious experience.
Shapeless, colorless people are not, however, just the anonymous bags of bones that the afore-written paragraphs might describe. There is a place for those without presence. In all truthfulness, a chameleon can fit well enough into any mold, from the lowest-skilled all the way up to the leader of the free world. To be a chameleon such as this imbues the person with a certain degree of disaffection and objectivity. In the very least, a chameleon is capable of fair judgements and impartiality.
This is the best response I’ve got to the statement “you’re a white man, you are not qualified to have an opinion on abortion/equality/women’s rights/race relations.”
The second-best response I’ve got is “fuck yourself.” It’s less eloquent, but I like its succinctness. I tend to answer with the latter more often than the first, but then again I don’t really speak much while outside of a mold.