“It’s Not That Deep”: The Curse of Social Consciousness

I Anyone who pays attention to social issues, whether or not they are directly affected by those issues, and decides to argue against injustice in any of its several forms will sometimes be driven to near insanity by the many ‘it’s not that deep’ phrases that they will hear. Usually the frustration by attempts to analyse actual arguments by opponents is slightly less than that caused by people who try to convince you that you’re over-reacting without even making the effort to explain away your experience for you. What follows is wonder- are they intentionally making this illogical argument to rile you or is the human brain more fallible than you have thought?
The last time I was raging over someone’s display of a lack of social consciousness, a friend reminded me that all of the change we seek will not come in a day, or even a lifetime for that matter. But we all know this fact. For me and perhaps many others it is not the realization that the world will not turn around in a lifetime, it is the fear that it never might. After all, social injustice has existed and been fought since humans began building societies. Why then is our generation so sure that we have what it takes to truly make a difference, especially when individuals and entire organisations continue to display a lack of social consciousness. It appears that in a world where we are able to connect with the different realities that people live, we remain below the expected levels of social consciousness and social conscience. Beyond this, many who have received adequate exposure to societal ills have been socialised to see no problem in situations that are unfair and unjust to several groups in society.
Whenever someone says ‘it’s not that deep’, we are reminded of the above facts. We think of the voices that will always echo the mocking chorus. We throw our minds into worst case scenarios where our dreams never come true. We remember the heroes who came before us and wonder how many heroes will be enough. We might even begin to question our own selves and beliefs: is it that deep? This is the curse of social consciousness. To be constantly driven from frustration to fear and towards even doubt is a burden that all who choose to not only be aware of, but also actively involved in social movement will bear.
This sensitivity is not something we should run away from. Instead, these emotions should represent our investments. We become frustrated because we are trying our hardest. We feel fear because we know that there is much to lose, for everyone involved. We feel doubt (as hard as it may be to admit) and when we overcome it, our belief is made stronger. In the end, what may seem like a curse becomes the thing that reminds us to never let up; to rage and to remain angry. Without it, nothing will drive us towards stepping up, taking a stand for what we believe in and ultimately building a world where all will be treated fairly.


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