I wanted to talk to you about drugs. This is your brain...This is your brain on drugs..
No, I'm kidding. I think. My wonderful bout of insomnia sucked me, somehow from glorious pieces on the beauty that is Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (Yay Sherlock and Hobbit geekdom) to articles about the bullying women are facing at un-Godly proportions on the internet. It is bullying I have avoided for the most part thanks to my incredibly amazing fans. These articles had a consequence. They ever so slowly led me to thoughts about all the types of hate you see on the inter-webs these days.
The thoughts brought out The Incredible Hulk in me. Hulk smash hate.
It's easy to see the mustache-twirlers, finger-temple makers and creepy-cat-stroking villains of the world. They are always easy to spot and, honestly, the least frightening of the villains we face as they look you in the face. They swing down from the rafters bellowing their vitriol with the sort of fervor that makes you want to either get out garlic to ward them off or run very far away and never look back. They are the person one finds most often on the internet. And if you are a person of conscience, you know that running away or tiptoeing around the issue doesn't fix a damn thing or bring about the change this world so desperately needs. At some point in your life, you're going to make a stand against someone who hates you for superficial reasons. It's pure statistics.
Maybe someone you know was raped, sexually assaulted or bullied and you don't find those kinds of comments very funny or tasteful. Maybe you're black, white, olive, or a purple people eater and someone's made a slur about an ethnicity you don't appreciate. Maybe you're witness or victim to racial profiling, fat shaming, slut shaming, skinny shaming, macho shaming, homophobia, threatening of women when they are not strong and independent, religious hate ...The list could - sadly! - go on for a while.
Our first instincts - according to the internet - are to get in a big, fat fight with the person who made the comment - yelling for all your worth how that person sucks - or slink into the shadows and let their words slowly tear about your soul and mind. Sadly, I've not seen people stand up in real life nearly as often as they do on the inter-webs, save for my husband, who is a superhero and you had damn well not contradict me. : ) While the former might be more cathartic, I don't really see it as helping. Responses toward the bigot in question are generally met with name calling and hate. Not only have you fed the asshole whose mind will probably always remain closed to equality and this brilliant new world of progress and change, you most likely have hated your way into their level of douchebaggery.
I'm not saying you shouldn't defend yourself. Do! Raise your voice. Take a stance. Be brave. Taking abuse is never the healthy thing for anyone. Remove yourself from it if at all possible, report it, make a stand in your own way, even if you don't engage the person directly. What I'm suggesting is that we start approaching the hate in another way. We need to find something to counterbalance the hate instead of adding to it.
The internet has changed things, but some moral principles live on. There are fundamental truths we cannot ignore in this life. Humanity, for all its tricks, doo-dahs, gadgets and thing-a-ma-bobs a plenty, is still linked by, well, humans.
Let me break it down and then try to build it back up.
One of the things that I've noticed first about these types of encounters is that they start with bigots who find their prey in the most innocuous of places. A person posting a video on Youtube. Someone who reports on topics that make them uncomfortable. Twiiter...God, Twitter. Facebook. Tumblr. Instagram. It goes on. They find - rather maliciously - people with strong opinions other than the bigots that frighten them. They poke, prod and harass those people to the point of frustration. Some, yes, are just the trolls who like to stir up attention as they desperately search for attention. They roar and tantrum and stomp their feet, much like any toddler would when deprived of attention for long. You know. You've been there. You've all seen it.
They post or speak a comment that ignites the flame. "You're fat." "Gays are damned to hell." "Women should be in the kitchen where they belong." "I'm going to rape you." "My religion is better than your religion and you're all going to burn for eternity." ad nauseam. (All things I've found on seemingly innocuous sites one should be able to browse in peace, not to mention in the real world.) The thing that bothers me the most (outside of the bigots, of course) is that the first instinct of the people responding, with the best of intentions, I'm sure, is to jump into that same pattern of name calling with which the bigot started the conversation. The bigot wants this. That person wants to fuel the fire so they can validate their own hate in their minds. They want to affirm what they think they know about you. They want to have a very good reason to hate you. They want to be able to point at your comments and the way you return their hate insult for insult. They want you to attack them. Some of them even want to get hurt. (More so in the real world.) You attacking them is proof that you are the evil they have made you out to be. Your actions validate their fear and confirms what their minds have already decided to believe.
And sometimes, people attack the person who made the bigoted remark by attacking another group. One post actually read something like this: "People shouldn't fat shame people. Those guys should pay for what they did with their jobs. At least those larger women aren't starving themselves or making themselves throw up like some skinny bitches."
Trying to defend the point that you shouldn't fat shame by shaming women who are petite? That's not evolution. That's the same level of thinking as the bigot, only it's slightly more accepted because of our current cultural structure and what is considered minority versus majority of the population. It's no different than shaming a woman for being into video games or tech or having a high paying job. Or shaming a man (see this in the south a lot) for not wanting to break his back at a job, have a typical nuclear family or perhaps work in a field that bigots have deemed feminine, for whatever reason.
IT IS NO DIFFERENT! Do you hear me internet? I've used caps, so you outta! Stereotyping another group because they aren't as vulnerable is still ignorance.
What if, instead, we applied our brainpower into changing the way we think of the bigots of the world? What if, instead of dehumanizing them the way they have dehumanized us, we focus on the fact that they are human beings. Instead, we fight them with respect, an open heart and ninja-like grace of character. There is nothing more powerful than example. Preaching to the choir gets you nowhere. But showing the other side that you are willing to treat them like humans, to fight hate with love, takes away their power and gives them fewer reasons to point the finger and dehumanize you. Please do fight to bring equality, harmony and togetherness. Fight to give our future generations a better world. But do so in a way that does not continue the discordance. Wear them down by attrition. And Love. Love. Love. Love.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
Isn't that just the shit? True poetry in every way. True humanism of the highest order. Bring light to the world. Don't serve their purpose by bringing more hate. If you feel compelled to stand up, to speak, do so. Please, please, please, do so, but do it with respect to those you would face. Find a way to make your point that supports the victim first and the bigot never. Contact websites directly if someone is harassing you, let the world know what they are doing, show them that you are leading by glorious example, don't hide, but be smart, be clever, be better about how you fight back than the bigot. Think of King and the way he won the Civil Rights Movement, through peacefulness and a sense of the community to all people, no matter creed, color or sexual orientation.
It's very difficult to hate someone so very determined to love you as a brother or sister.
Setting aside hate is not easy, and I'm no angel myself, but I believe in us as humans. We're clever enough to invent the Spork for God's sake. We're certainly clever enough to figure out a way past the hate. If you have set aside bigotry to see the intrinsic value off all humans, even the ones who disagree with you, then you are definitely smart enough to help me tear down the barriers and bigotry without stooping to hate. You're already mostly there, so let's step over that hurdle together and bring some awesomeness back to the internet. Let's find a way to stop blaming the other guy and leading by example. Let's improve the world and not focus on the people who would keep us stagnate. Human nature is to grow. Let's grow together for the better, shall we?
Can we shake on that?
My eyelids feel like they're punching the crap out of my eyeballs. I'm going to rest them now. Maybe. I hope this made sense. Chances are this came out in a long string of awerouohrbrtbihtulkjbvjnfhibi. But I'm willing to take the risk. To all of you enjoying Comic-con - bastards - hug an Ewok for me, will ya?