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Imagine for a moment: If a woman was being abused by her husband, would you tell her that she needs to be nicer, more understanding, to love him more, and then he’d be better to her? No, you wouldn’t, because you don’t put the burden of change on the victim. You’d tell her not to take it, to demand respect, and to get herself the hell out of there. Dealing with abusive people in our society is no different. We’re not going to make them stop hurting us by being nice to them. No amount of sensitivity is going to change their minds. They think what they think, and other than leading by example, we can’t do much in that respect. We need to take a stand and not allow their abuse. We need to shout to the rooftops that what they’re doing is not okay. We need to have the backbone to say “Enough is enough.”
There’s this thing I see my Pagan friends share a lot that I think fits: “Do no harm, but take no shit.” I think that’s the line we have to dance along as a society. We have to try to be good people, try to do the right thing and show the world what good people look like, but at the same time, we need to refuse to take other people’s shit. We have to look the abusers in the eye and say “I won’t take this” instead of trying to convert them with kindness, which we know damned well isn’t going to work with most of them.
I know that most of us want to be good people. We want decency and kindness to rule our lives. Unfortunately, our opposition doesn’t feel the same. Their idea of love is the toxic kind, the kind we see so often in abusive relationships. “Do what I tell you and I’ll be good to you.” And too often “You’re the one hurting me, the way I treat you is your fault.” They come from a damaged mindset with a very twisted idea of what love is. Giving them real love will only work on the few who are already questioning, the ones that are already seeing the problems in their subset of society.
As much as we want to win this war with kindness and respect, it’s not going to be that easy. Showing them how good we are and trying to educate them isn’t going to cut it. We need to love each other, support the downtrodden in our society, lift up those who’ve been pushed down, and come together as a community as best we can. While we’re doing that though, we have to work to put our oppressors in their place. We have to become intolerant of their abuses. We have to stand up and refuse to take it anymore.
As a nation, we, for lack of a better way to put it, need to rebuild our confidence. We need to remember who we are and what we stand for. We have to dig deep and find the best parts of ourselves, and pull up the strength that each of us has inside. We need to start really looking at the world around us and labeling the problems. Like an abuse victim, we need to set hard boundaries and demand respect. We need to stop letting ourselves be brainwashed and hurt. It’s not easy to be loud, to be mean, to be unwavering, but sometimes that’s exactly what we need to be.
Kindness and flexibility with no show of force has gotten us into this mess. We weren’t paying attention, and they smiled widely as they slithered their way into our society and took it over. We wanted to be allowing, understanding, and they took advantage of it. We have to draw new lines in the sand and refuse to let them cross. We have to look for all the ways that they’re harming our society, and put an end to it.