When Hate Rears its Ugly Head We Have to Be Kinder. We Have to Smack It Down.
It's not kindness when we allow vulnerable people to be harmed.
I’m going to say up front there’s much to celebrate in this country. If that seems counter to what we’re seeing every day in the news, it’s because good news doesn’t sell. The success stories inside and outside of government tend to take a back seat to the potentially scary, the downright scary, the outrageous, and the controversial.
But as a whole we’re a country on the move, working toward bettering ourselves and everything around us. We’re still hoping we can figure out how our democracy works and what we have to do to keep it running.
At the same time, the forces working against it are building to an obvious pressure point. They don’t like where we’re going. Their power and their profits are taking a hit and they can’t have that.
They make no bones about wanting to control our lives and since they can’t seem to do it any other way, they’re pressuring the haters to bring down their signature wrath upon us.
They know we’re a country that values free speech and disavows censorship, so they’ve built a campaign of lies claiming any protest against the full-time haters is nothing more than an attempt to silence those ‘freethinkers’ who, they want us to believe, have every right to spew their particular brands of hate—and even act on them—collateral damage be damned.
Who is going to win the battle for the life and soul of the country? Do we get better health care, more equitable social services, a move toward climate responsibility, a stronger work force, a weaker billionaire class? Do we push harder for real law and order?
Must we learn to accept racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, homophobia, or misogyny as the normal process in a ‘free society’?
What is our role in all of this?
I know we all think we’re good and kind and an asset to, rather than a carbuncle on, society, but can we be good and kind and still work against those people who aren’t? Those awful people who refuse to give a thought to anyone outside their own circles and have no desire to be anything but cruel to the rest?
Damn right we can.
It’s a kindness to go outside our own perimeters and speak out for those who have no power, who have no voice, who need a helping hand against an entire segment of society bent on destroying them.
It’s a kindness to demand justice when those who are strongest are holding down and intimidating those who are weakest and most vulnerable.
It’s a kindness to castigate those who go on the attack against others over their gender, their beliefs, their sexual orientation, their poverty, their illnesses, their addictions, their caste, their color, their places of origin.
Along with that kindness comes a need to stay strong. The only way to save the people we keep working to save is to get out there and knock a few heads together. Not literally, of course, because that’s not us, but figuratively.
Because those people working to make life worse for the vulnerable among us are bad. To the core.
Now is not the time to be polite. Good manners never won wars. And forgiveness, as I’ve mentioned here and here, is exactly what the haters are hoping for. I don’t have to tell you who the haters are. I don’t have to tell you what they’ve done. You know who they are. You’ve lived through what they’ve done. Now we have to concentrate on the battle ahead.
Someone said recently we should stop calling it a ‘battle’ and maybe try to understand where those haters are coming from. I found the idea startling—that we should be polite when a war is being waged against us. We shouldn’t give it such a provocative name because it might provoke them.
I mean…HELL yeah! Let’s provoke them. Let’s give them holy hell for what they’ve been doing to us. They’re not ‘our friends across the aisle’. They’re not well-meaning but ill-advised. They’re not foolish, they’re not brainwashed, they’re not patriotic, they’re not afraid.
They’re cruel and destroying us is their goal. They march along with false flags and big guns and tell vicious, damaging lies in order to preserve their supposed hold on a country that’s moving past them, that’s rising above them, that’s demanding a reasonably good life for everyone.
We can’t get there by trying to understand them or by setting them a place at a table they’ve made dangerously wobbly. If we’re divided, they divided us. We’re past waiting for them to see the light. Now we have to gather our own strength, set our own boundaries, and stick with it, no matter how hard they go after us for doing what’s right.
It won’t be easy, but war never is. This is a war we have to win. We have to be strategic, we have to brave, and we have to be resolute. While it’s fun to ridicule Trump and the rest by calling them names or making clever memes with distorted faces and figures, that’s a feel-good pastime. Our jobs aren’t done once we’ve passed them along. That’s not a job at all.
Being kind is often hard work. it requires a strong heart and a selflessness we’re not always used to giving. Being kind enough to save an entire nation is nothing short of mind-boggling—which may be why we haven’t thought of it that way. But if you love someone or some thing you’ll do anything to save it.
That’s where we’re at now. Do we love our country and the people in it enough to do whatever we can to save it? Can we set aside whatever petty differences we might have had and work now toward a common good? Is this battle worth it?
How do we do it? Together. We do it by being kind to each other as we work at driving out the people trying to destroy us. We cannot give them the power they demand.
We rise together. No country has ever won the battle against the forces of evil without the majority of its citizens joining together as one to end tyranny. We’ve done it ourselves a few times.
It’s how we got to be the United States of America.
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I rewrote this piece in answer to an on-going discussion going on at Substack Notes this week about allowances for haters and hate speech. I’ll use this as an answer instead of entering into another pissing contest that goes nowhere. Comments are welcome, but this isn’t a free-for-all. Please keep it civil.
Hi Ramona. I hope you’re well. A well written piece... and i hope you don’t mind me commenting. Feel free to ignore it, or if it is too much, mute/block away. It’s definitely not my intention to insult, offend or anything else.
But as i’m not from America, i have a different perspective on this particular part of your essay:
I know we all think we’re good and kind and an asset to, rather than a carbuncle on, society, but can we be good and kind and still work against about those people who aren’t? Those awful people who refuse to give a thought to anyone outside their own circles and have no desire to be anything but cruel to the rest?
Damn right we can.
Because the most dangerous, serial offender “people who are awful and refuse to give a thought to anyone outside their circles”’are the Elite circle and power structure of your country, not the deeply unhappy sad sacks screaming for attention like spoiled adolescents by saying admittedly horrific stuff. You do realise the chaos and destruction that power structure is sewing around the world, right, and has been for the last 70 years - i mean, ask anyone in Vietnam. Chile. Cuba. Afghanistan. Iraq. Libya. Syria. Lebanon. Yemen. Palestine. (To name a few)
From bombs to starvation sanctions, from funding right wing fundamental wahhabi nutcases (when convenient to them) who make Todd from arkansas and his vicious racism look like a character from the little mermaid.... Ask the countless souls in your own country hopelessly addicted to the FDA approved Opioids that this cabal of crooks and psychos just took some bribery money, sorry, lobbying money, to rush through.
And because some spotty teenager who has probably been on ADHD meds since he was 6 types some horrible words, you would like to hand the censorship keys to every online speech platform to them. Then that’ll be the end of it, alongside the “anti-guillotine” robodog cops being rolled out in NY..... because you (plural, not personal. Anyone making the similar argument) will have cheered on and created the consent for all that power and money to label what is inconvenient to that power and money as something that is wrong and worthy of censorship. In other words, killing dissent and voices of reason who want to speak out.?
I don’t think that’s your intention, you clearly want a better world. But what you are arguing for here will absolutely have the opposite effect. It is one of the indisputable observable facts of every horrific authoritarian society of the last 200 years that they had censorship powers and were not afraid to use them. Why do you think that is? And please don’t bring up that state/private thing. That line is so blurry it doesn’t exist. Look at how censorship is achieved in China - it is operated in large part by private entities, not the state.
We all need to be able to call this power structure out, and that means ensuring legal protections to do so, particularly for you American Citizens, who can do the most to help sort that monster out.
If you have read this far, thanks. If you think about it, many thanks. Be well and use your eloquence wisely.
With respect and fellow human solidarity
Look at the figures. They are publicly available. Obama did the same with immigrant/refugee families, and so is Biden now. Obama started the drone programme that has literally blown thousands of innocent black and brown people to pieces. He started the invasion of Libya, which is now nothing but a daily fight for survival. If you are for protecting people, then it’s all of them that are being brutalized by that power structure, not just the ones that appear on CNN, NYT etc or what have you.
I hate trump too, he’s a malignant human, who exploited anger for personal gain and did nothing that he said he would. but they all do horrible things. Take abortion. Obama ran on signing rowe v wade into law. One of his major campaign promises. He had a two year clear majority to do it, but he waltzed in that door and kicked it down the path..... so how, materially, is that any different from what that orange goblin did? That’s my point. Please don’t think it’s because of some people chucking around insults. It’s because that whole structure, no matter who is in power, doesn’t give a flying fook about you, brown people, or anyone other than its own power.
And if you help get this signed into legislation then if de santis wins, who do you think he’ll censor and silence? And you will not be able to put it back in the bottle.