In the first chapter of his book “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” Paolo Freire reminds readers that folks from the oppressor class can only truly be in solidarity with folks from the oppressed class when they are willing to forfeit their privilege.
”The oppressor is solidary with the oppressed only when he stops regarding the oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived of their voice, cheated in the sale of their labor — when he stops making pious, sentimental, and individualistic gestures and risks an act of love. True solidarity is found only in the plenitude of this act of love, in its existentiality, in its praxis. To affirm that men and women are persons and as persons should be free, and yet to do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality, is a farce.”
The feeling I had this morning after voting not for a party I would chosen on my own, but rather a party I was instructed to vote for by a Palestinian to whom I offered my vote as part of the Real Democracy Initiative, was not a good feeling. My friend and fellow-blogger Mairav Zonszein, with whom I’d discussed voting options at multiple stages of both of our processes (to boycott or not to boycott? To vote Da’am or not to vote Da’am?), participated in the same initiative and expressed a similar feeling in the blog she wrote about voting for a party she wouldn’t have voted for on her own this morning:
”And I don’t want or need anyone’s pat on the back or admiration for this move. The opposite. I’m not proud of it at all. In fact I’m ashamed. People should be angry and ashamed, like I am, that it has come to this. It has come to a point where I, who never thought I could or would give up my right to vote, have done so.”
I think Mairav is right. Today is not a happy day. We should not leave the voting booths feeling good about ourselves, satisfied that we have done our part, glowing either with democratic fervor for those of us who still believe that this place can be called democratic while brutally occupying millions of non-citizens for four and a half decades, or with radical fervor for those of us who ”gave up our votes.” Maybe the lesson to be learned from having voted for a party I did not want to vote for is more meaningful than the pleasant feeling I would have gotten voting for Hada”sh not for myself, but for a Palestinian! (wink wink). Maybe this is what Freire was talking about, maybe this is what giving up privilege feels like: bad. Right, perhaps even crucial, but bad.