It is important that privileged people are regularly reminded of their good fortune. The best way to do this is to hear the stories of others and get out of the bubble where it is most comfortable to live in.
The world is in a state of severe polarization at the moment. We stay put in our bubbles and don’t care to see “the other man.” This is a dangerous situation. Many dark episodes in history have begun in similar conditions.
I am a middle-aged woman living a very privileged life. I haven’t really encountered any true hardships in my life so far. In my everyday life, I don’t have to worry about things like violence and hunger. My biggest disappointments have to do with disillusionment in love.
It has been a good reminder for me to hear the stories of my fellow journalists in this year’s WPI group. Working in Finland is like working in Disney World compared to many of the fellows. I don’t have to worry for my safety because of my work and I don’t get harassed by the government or other third parties.
Freedom of speech and expression is so everyday that it is like the air we breathe. And even in breathing, I’m privileged as I live in a country that is not very polluted (yet,) and even urban areas have clean air and good drinking water. Not a given in this world!
I believe one of the most important duties of journalism is to burst bubbles and always provide different perspectives. This means we need to hear the opinions of others, even if we don’t agree. Even more important is to recognize our own biases. Nobody is truly objective.
The world is a strange place. It is a life long quest to try and understand it. The first step is to try to understand other people ¬– as confusing and infuriating as it sometimes is.
As the late senator John McCain writes in his book “The Restless Wave – Good Times, Just Causes and Other Appreciations” (co-author Mark Salter): “I wish we would learn to understand that we are more similar than different.”
(The quote is translated from the Finnish version of the book.)