slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
[personal profile] slythwolf
(At long last. Heh.)

For years, years, I have taken shit about this, either for identifying as Slytherin when I work for social justice, or for working for social justice when I identify as Slytherin. (The first being, how can you call yourself a Slytherin when you do X, Y and Z that we, the ignorant masses, perceive as Hufflepuff; and the second, how can you want to right social wrongs, you're a Slytherin!)

Well, these misconceptions arise from a fundamental misunderstanding of what Slytherin is actually about. People hear "any means to achieve their ends" and go OMG EVIL. No. No, no, no.

Thing is, being willing to do whatever's necessary to get done what you want to get done? That's just persistence. That's just refusal to give up until you have exhausted all the options.

What makes it evil is if your ends are evil. Yes, for reals.

No, I am not justifying doing evil things in the service of good. People who do that have lost sight of what their ends actually are, because doing evil in the service of good actually fails to accomplish the good, um, hello, because it's EVIL. Or, if they haven't lost sight of what their ends are, they are mistaken about what "good" is. They think they're trying to accomplish something good, but their "good" is actually evil.

But the point is: the Slytherin thing to do is to make sure the playing field is level, everyone has what they need to survive, and everyone can do whatever it is they love to do best. Why? Simple: Slytherins know you have to use all your resources.

We, as a society? We are not using all our resources.

Take me for example. I am fucking smart. I think critically about everything, I solve problems in new and innovative ways, I retain information extremely well and I pick up new skills ridiculously quickly. I do not have a job. I spend my days sitting in front of my computer, reading fanfic, playing video games and knitting things for myself. Our society is not using me to my full potential.

There are a lot of people out there like me. In fact, I would venture to say, everyone who is not already employed in a field zie feels passionate about and is doing cool and innovative things in? Is being underutilized.

There are three basic human resources our society is vastly underutilizing because of institutionalized bigotry, and those are talent, passion and imagination. And shit, with those three things we can do anything.

We are not doing it.

Instead our society is structured in such a way that the vast majority of people are employed in fields they hate, because various institutionalized bigotries (including but by no means limited to classism, racism, sexism, ablism and homophobia) have made it so that that's what you have to do to survive. You have to do work that does not inspire you, and when you are not inspired, guess what, you don't do your best work.

When people talk about Congress needing to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell so the military can keep qualified people to do necessary jobs--that's a Slytherin argument.

And this shit cuts both ways, too! So that you have doctors and lawyers who don't really like their work, but they do it, because their own internalized classism means they don't want to be poor, and poor people who really do want to do that work but can't because they don't have the resources to get the education. Meanwhile, lots of truly necessary work is undervalued--and I don't just mean stuff like teaching and childcare, although they totally count; I'm talking about the people who sew our clothing being paid orders of magnitude less than the minimum-wage retail clerks who take it out of a box and hand it to us. And I'm talking about art, and music, and stories, things that make our lives worth living but that we only really reward if you can get famous making them.

Human beings and human society have the potential to do, explore, create extraordinary things, but we are not using our available resources, and the resources are us. That is why Slytherin means caring about social justice. Slytherins do not look at the way things are and say "eh, that's good enough". Slytherins reach for something more. That is what ambition is. Not just personal ambition--although we have that too--but the ambition for our society to reach greater heights so that we, in turn, can reach greater heights as individuals.

I cannot reach my full potential unless society reaches its full potential, and nor can anyone else.

We have to use every tool at our disposal. It's foolish not to. It's foolish to rule out the potential contributions of billions of talented, passionate, imaginative people because of petty irrelevancies like their sex, race or disabilities, or because they don't happen to come from a family who has already achieved a certain level of financial success.

Some of you may have heard me blathering on in the past about the majority of Slytherins and traditionally Slytherin families during Harry's time at Hogwarts, well, sucking at being Slytherin. This is what I'm talking about. By looking down on the Muggle-born and lower-class members of their community, they leave half their tools in the box for no reason but foolish pride, and I disparage them accordingly. If you spend your whole life thinking screwdrivers are better than hammers, and suddenly you're faced with a nail, you're not going to get anywhere.

Gryffindors will talk to you about right and wrong and what is and is not okay to do to other people, and they have a point; they're not wrong; that stuff matters. But a Slytherin knows that even if you didn't care about any of that, you'd still have to work for social justice, because we cannot build anything if we leave half our tools in the box.
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slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
slythwolf

October 2012

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