The Privilege of the Oppressed
There is a certain clarity of mind, an unobstructed impression of reality, that accompanies the turmoils of oppression. Though the oppressor may be granted every power, and the oppressed forced to experience all varieties of hardship and indignity, there is a certain embarrassment that must necessarily accompany the irreality of the oppressor, whose perverted picture of justice has deformed that sacred virtue into its opposite. All oppressors are themselves oppressed by fallacy.
The slave owners had to run from the truth of their hypocrisy; they had to futilely hide from the unavoidability of the error of their ways; and they had to endure each day the lash of their conscience. The endorsers of the patriarchy live with a crippling misconception belied by their every demonstration of incompetence. All those slum lords, slippery politicians, and callous businessmen that eagerly promote every sort of maltreatment of their fellow man, for the sake of their own greed, find that same greed works invariably to eat at their happiness for the sake of its own self-perpetuation.
There are no examples of such tongue-tying oxymorons as happily unjust, joyfully malevolent, or blissfully greedy. Congratulations to the oppressed who have only to suffer under the encumbrance of external abuse and physical harm, but who are spared the real hell of blinding ignorance, benumbing coldness, self-assailing hate, and inconsolable cupidity.
The vampiric oppressor must hide their eristic justifications from the light of truth, which each day shines through every perforation in the patchy curtain of their self-imposed ignorance. What relative pleasure is enjoyed by those who, even if subjected to every cruelty, are spared the impossible task of trying to repress their irrepressible sensibility for the truth. No matter how strong the chains employed by the master to restrain the slave, there is no chain the master can enfetter the mind’s eye with to keep it from setting upon the repulsiveness of his ways, and no breakwater sufficient to hold back the spate of self-censure that must follow.
Frederick Douglass, in his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, writes with a sense of pity for how slavery changed, not him, but his master:
“But, alas! this kind heart had but a short time to remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon.”
Martin Vidal is the author of The Ambition Handbook: A Guide for Ambitious Persons