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When It Comes to Resistance, Criticize Behavior, Not People

Joy Jackson

Every day social media is flooded with personal attacks for having expressed an opinion contrary to their own. Since the presidential campaign, it actually has overwhelmed me. There have been a lot of assumptions about why people voted for Trump, many deeming our compatriots as racists. Likewise, some conservatives have argued the ludicrousy of women marching so they can “kill their babies.” None of this is productive nor is it true. And it is ALL offensive. And not only do I intellectually recognize it as being offensive, I FEEL offended.

Here’s the thing: It is possible to critique ideas and actions without criticizing people. And now that it can no longer be ignored that our society is, in many instances, deeply divided, I can’t help but bring attention to the vitriolic manner in which some of us have chosen to express ourselves.

More: Love will prevail, but only if we can extend it to Trump voters

I say this not as a judgment because I definitely understand the anger that comes with being disregarded, ignored, and marginalized but rather as a reflection on the despair and fear that is present whenever we choose to respond to anyone with anger, hate, and dismissal.

And while these responses come from the fear we feel about living under the Trump administration, this fear marks a sense of powerlessness that does not reflect the full power of the people. Recently, we have witnessed people who are moved to act against hate. That is what we must draw on whenever we feel fear. We must feel the fear but let it pass and choose to act from a place of abundance, love, hope, and personal agency.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with President Trump. And I will resist his fear tactics, exclusionary policies, and belittling antics, but I will not demean him or anyone else. Why? Because I want solutions which require us to listen, strategize, collaborate, and act with allies. And we can not figure out who all of our allies are if we alienate them by conscious attempts to belittle them when we don’t thoroughly understand their experience and perspective or agree on every issue.

To find solutions, we must act collectively and assert ourselves with strength, persistence, and love without demeaning individuals personally. We don’t have to like their ideas, actions or philosophy and we can state our dissatisfaction, disapproval and even denounce specific behaviors but we do not have to belittle, attack, or hate anyone. We can never forget that whenever we choose to hate and belittle we dehumanize others AND ourselves putting solutions that much further from our reach.

If we really want to be heard, we must acknowledge our common humanity but put it center stage whenever we seek to be heard. Doing so means that we are aware that the solutions lie in understanding that it is going to be complicated because humans are nuanced and messy instead of dismissing others experiences as simple, inconsequential, or not valid. The latter, in essence, gives us permission to become apathetic to others concerns and suffering, meaning the hate and fear will grow. It means understanding that we all have hurt at times and if there’s any hope of alleviating our own suffering (and that of others) there is only one option…love, compassion and collaboration.

Our experience is a human experience and when it comes down to it, that commonality is our entree into healing ourselves and working toward solutions for everyone. I know that this will work better than you call me a murderer and me casting you as a racist.

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