As Damsels in Defiance, eventually you will have to deal with backlash. In preparation, we want to give you guidelines on how to manage internet trolls, adamant Trump supporters, hate, bitterness and anger with compassion and kindness, without compromising our shared goals and responsibilities. Here are some tips on face-to-face encounters, some tips on social media encounters, and How to be a White Ally.
To have compassion we must believe in the ultimate goodness of human nature. The only way for us to be successful is if we believe, as Anne Frank did, “that people are really good at heart.” We have to decide to love above all else — above our egos and pride, above our own fears and insecurities, and above our own hatred and hostility. We must fight the urge to lash out, even when there are truly legitimate reasons to do so.
We need to understand there are a multitude of factors that have led to an America that is reeling with hatred. We can’t look to blame or scapegoat any one factor. Instead, like viewing an impressionist piece of art, we need to take a step back and look at the entire picture. Decades of institutionalized oppression, the influence of social media including false news, the housing crisis and recession, demographic changes, changes in the way we work, globalization, corporate greed and an entrenched political elite are just to a few explanations as to how we got here. But more important is how we act now to climb out of this darkness.
Let us view Trump as a symptom of an ailing society. And now, we as a collective force, must treat the illness. Like any good doctor, to treat the illness we have to listen to all segments of society as they describe their symptoms (some may be very real, some may be delusion or ignorance). We should take the opportunity to learn something from their perspective.
It is imperative too that we become more versed in other viewpoints so that we can strategize a way forward and solidify our vision of an inclusive America in leadership and governance in the country.
Remember that for most people you will encounter, educating them, explaining facts, telling them the truth is not going to change their minds. Rather than trying to change minds, ask pointed questions. Ask them to expound on why they feel the way they do and to provide concrete examples. Often you will find they can’t, or their logic is weak, but the point is that they must think introspectively and they will not feel that you are shoving anything down their throats.
The right-wing media is full of vitriol. We must never go there. No name calling. No swearing at those with whom we don’t agree. No ratcheting up arguments. No mockery.
We have made a promise to not be complacent and to never be silenced. But we can be soldiers of the resistance and still listen with compassion and respond to faulty logic with kindness and respect.