The Stories We Know
By Edith Lundén (@edilund)
When I was a little girl, I sometimes thought that everyone but me on this planet were aliens, and that they had all been given a role to play in my life. The best alien-actors had gotten the parts as my mom and dad, and the less good actors had been given the parts as the woman in the checkout at the supermarket, or the taxi driver who drove us back home at 4am from our friend's house at New Year’s, when I was too tired to take the bus.
I thought that the world was circulating around me, just like all children do. Because at that point in our lives, we don’t realise the difference between the world circulating around us and our own lives circulating around us. You see, the four-year-old me didn’t know anything about the world. All I knew was our three-room apartment where i shared a bunk bed with my sister, and the short way to kindergarten that I walked every morning, holding Dad’s hand through the forest my grandma and I picked daisies in every spring. To me, that was the world.
Throughout our whole lives, all we ever know is our own minds and whatever they contain. As I grew up, I learned how to take the train downtown and navigate through the city, my older cousin and role-model taught me about feminism, and after one week of hardcore-studying in 6th grade, I knew the names of every country and capital in Europe.
My world expanded, and I learned more and more about the actual world.
And the difference between them?
My world contains only of things I already know, while the rest of this planet still has so many places for me to visit, so many people I have yet to meet and become friends with, and maybe even languages that today sounds like murmurs and hummings without a melody in my head, but in the future may come out of my own mouth.
This - living, humanity, and the fact that the only mind we have to listen to is our own, is what makes it so hard to fully understand another human being. There is no before you were born, not to you - but to her it is. You have only been told what happened before you came to listen for yourself. And I think that’s what creates racism. And sexism, etc. Because everyone tells different stories, and no matter how much I try, I will never know how it is to be black. And you may never know how it is to be a girl.
You can’t read minds, so you can choose to listen to my stories, or you can listen to theirs. The way your brother doesn’t think his girlfriend is enough, and the way your father puts the word “hush” between your mother’s lips when she tries to speak at the kitchen table.
And I can listen to your stories, or I can listen to Donald Trump’s (etc, etc, — ugh). It will always just be stories to my ears, but I can choose to listen to the person who needs them to be heard.
The one story that matters to the world I will spend my future in.
And that’s what creates feminists. We’ve realized that more people need change than just us; that the world doesn’t circulate around me, or you, after all. And so of course a boy can call himself a feminist. And of course I can promote black rights, or wave a rainbow flag in the air.
We just need to realize that it isn’t our stories to tell, that we won’t be the ones to tell our children about the victory, because we weren’t the ones who was hurt, discriminated and killed on the way. We are not the strongest this time, and that doesn’t matter, because this isn’t a competition. We are simply here to help each other, because we are all humans. And this is a fight for humanity.