We Have to Build the Future Out of the Past

(Drew Kadel points out an omission in this piece about the need for a strength of values in comments: 

“It’s important to own our own values, to know why we hold them and to have the character to hold those values in the face of opposition… you are discussing having integrity while loving people who do bad things… love (can) become sentimentalized and involve letting people off the hook (“Give him another chance”, “He’s really a good guy underneath, he doesn’t mean to always beat me”)… in loving those who violate our values, it’s important to know those values and keep them front and center. If empathy with self-pity becomes sympathy with self-pity we spiral down into moral vacuity.” Thank you for catching this, Drew!)

Science suggests to me this article may be doomed. This is because this article is about the best supported strategies for changing people’s minds, and I’m relying on facts, which studies show may be the least effective strategy.  But there’s little more I can do than give you this truth, and hope you can make it emotionally real for you. And that idea is this: we must give love to those whom the gods put in our paths. I am agnostic about who or what you call the gods. I am fundamental about love, and that love is truth.

Amongst my friends (and family) I’ve counted people who kill for money, drug dealers, criminals living on the run, fucked up teenagers, Ren faire runaways, alcoholics, rapists, alcoholic rapists, more people who kill for money (but also get praised for it), employees who routinely break monopoly law, homeless psychotics, an FBI agent, a whole troop of gutter punks, a couple of private investigators, several delinquent parents, sex addicts, a passel of sociopaths, people cheating on their spouses, and probably a bunch more ne’er-do-wells I can’t think of right now. And, of course, a lot of idiot hackers. Almost everyone I know enacts violence on the world. As Americans, we don’t even get a choice in that. The fact of our very lives is used as a justification for endless wars and global plunder. I have a friend who moved to Spain so that he could say at least his tax dollars didn’t go to fuel that violence, even if his existence still does — a choice few have the advantages or courage to make.

Most of my more reprehensible friends hide the things that make people hate them, but I have one who flaunts his worst qualities. I know him as weev. I know him from the hacker scene, and since being jailed and released he’s become famous for publicly embracing neo-nazi ideology. I talk about being friends with weev not because I’m proud of being friends with weev in particular, but because I believe I should model publicly the behaviors that I want others to take up, and this is one of them. I want other white people to be friends with the weevs, racist relatives, and bigoted co-workers in their lives. I want people to reach out to the abusive toxic men and senior executive vice presidents in their lives, because it’s the most scientifically sound way that we fight bad ideas. White people can fight white racism, men can fight toxic masculinity, we all can oppose the evil ideas that harm us. It doesn’t stop with race and gender. I want rapists to be confronted by their friends, and alcoholics to be held accountable by people who love them. I want sociopaths to find people who can be their moral compasses when they can’t build their own. Sometimes it means you can be that compass for a broken person. Doing that means you reduce the harm they do to others by standing in the way of people you care for.

At the moment it is popular to say that the only allowable engagement with poisonous thinking is intellectual: arguments and statistics, emotions restricted to admonition and demands for better behavior. But this approach is a failure, and we see that failure on every level. Study after study show that facts, statistics, and news reports only entrench people’s existing beliefs, whether those beliefs are in truth or lies.

The engagement that works is a combination of personal connection, empathy, reciprocity, and then, only then, high quality information. If it sounds like you’ve probably got to care about the person, invest in them, then you’re right, you do. That means you can’t do it with everyone on Facebook or Twitter. For me, my community is technology and science. That means it’s largely white, male, and full of hidden and overt racism and sexism. I have three choices: leave my community, ignore these faults in my community, or engage with the people who have these terrible false beliefs. Sometimes it means marshaling facts in passionate arguments, but over dinner and drinks, not verbal sparring in front of a soi-disant audience. Sometimes you do this for months or years. Sometimes it means letting someone see how much their beliefs hurt you. I’ve walked out of the room openly sobbing because of a friend who insisted on a racist stance. I’ve confessed to my own pain and humiliation as a woman while a crowd looked on. But mostly it’s not that dramatic, it just means being a thorn, always prickly about it, just bringing up that thing you’re not supposed to talk about. Sometimes when you fight with one person, another person who cares for you watches, and something in that second person’s soul begins to shift. Sometimes you don’t know for years and a friend buys you a coffee one day, and tells you that you changed their life.

Sometimes you’ll never get to know.

Healing communities takes practicing community. Just being difficult isn’t enough on its own, or Twitter would have fixed all our social ills years ago. When you start from the point of having things in common, and build on it by giving things to each other, even if it’s no more than a meal, it becomes much harder to talk about something like sexism or racism. That feeling is key, that feeling is what you’re looking for. When confrontation becomes difficult, awkward, and distressing, it means you’re invested. That’s the moment to bring it up, that’s when it’s going to matter the most. Being genuine in that moment, and confronting false beliefs, is so much harder than making an argument online or pointing at research on its own. You need to have those things in hand, but you also need to have skin in the game. That is how you kill the racism, without killing the racist. It’s how you take the toxic out of masculinity. This — and education — are the only things that work. Even if you wanted to solve the problem by killing the bad people, it doesn’t scale. That’s a blood-soaked fantasy world, and the world has soaked in enough blood already.

Shunning, like violence, often entrenches false beliefs. When we reject a person we’ve known, especially without any personal confrontation or explanation, it seems like betrayal. This only pushes that false belief farther into the world, where it can grow and do more harm.

What I have found is that listening, confrontation, and love are the most effective ways to fight the lies someone you care for is telling themselves.

The first part of facing another person’s false beliefs is to listen. Not quietly — actively. Ask questions, and stop them when you don’t understand and seek clarity. Be ready to hear anything, or the other person will hold back. Somewhere in their story of how they came to a poisonous perspective you will find out what scared them. That moment — or moments, is always there. There is always a toxic core of shame and fear. They’ll tell you where they got the belief, and why they feel they need it. Sometimes even that simple articulation can start to unwind that deadly core. Be honest with how you feel in the process, while remembering that this isn’t about your feelings. No matter what you hear, never lose sight of the person you’re with, their pain, and their potential to exceed it.

Don’t be afraid to connect their beliefs with consequences in their lives. Hateful beliefs very often come with shameful moments, but speaking that shame can take its power away, especially when you’re still there after you’ve talked about it. You’re still holding on, and that’s key. If you’re going to tell them their belief is wrong, be ready with the evidence, but also be ready to affirm them as worthy of love, and be ready to help them imagine other futures beyond what they could have hoped for at the beginning of the conversation.

This is very rarely a single conversation. These are threads to be woven into every conversation, and pushed on, but only rarely to the point of exhaustion or tears, as much for your own sake as theirs. Keep coming back, keep unwinding the shame, keep affirming the love. Be ready to have this process change you in ways you don’t expect.

People I have confronted have confronted me back with my own shame, my own failings, and my own fears. When I learned to listen, two great things happened: I got to confront and clarify my own thinking, and I got to show my friends an example of someone changing and growing because of our friendship. They’ve called me a hypocrite and been right. When I’ve faced that, and seen to my own pain and fear and shame, they’ve given me the chance to change for the better myself.

When you can face your bigoted friend, and thank them for calling you on your bigotry, they may not be that far behind you for long. The project of becoming better people is something we do in community.

None of this is comfortable, and it’s likely to make people angry. I know this not just because of the data, because it made me angry too. Examining my own false beliefs has never been particularly fun, be they about how relationships work, or race, or class, or my own family. But doing this, and the people who helped me do this, gave me a strength that is not fragile, a capacity to love and seek truth that carried me through hell and back.

St Augustine said, “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum,” translated by Gandhi as: hate the sin and not the sinner. This beautiful phrase has been so often used as a put-down in recent years, but the sentiment it reflects saves worlds. When we’ve held false beliefs, succumbed to addictions, became sick in the mind and hated ourselves or others, the people who held us up did so by loving us and rejecting the lies we were clinging to, all at once.

In the case of my friend weev, I see a tragedy. I believe he is trying to strike out at the people who hurt him, but by propping up the same white supremacy that gave them their power in the first place. What he’s doing supports the very people who ordered violence on him, who took away his freedom, and tortured him. The same power structure that hurt him pays him a wage and gives him an attaboy now, as long as he keeps hurting people, just as he was hurt. The situation of his birth primed him to fall for a trick, and he did. He is falling for a con that’s been working in my country of birth for more than 400 years, and it hurts me to see it working again, still one person at a time, long after its original inventors are dead and dust. Torturing one group and then paying them to be guard labor over an even more tortured group is the first trick in the racism handbook.

It’s an effective lie, with its own life, and it’s hurting billions of people right now. But it is a lie. This false belief not only hurts the victims of racism, it hurts the people who hold the belief as well, robbing all of us of a future. It’s an angry and broken world that doesn’t realize there’s no point to the things we were taught to hate for. This idea keeps us fighting over scraps on a planet full of stunning abundance. I have sat with this thing all my life, and I have found it empty, hungry, and meaningless.

I have no need or desire to bring more hate and anger into this world. What’s more, I have science that can help me develop techniques to diminish the anger and hate that’s here now. Science, like all forms of truth, is a form of love.

We live for barely any time in the one tiny bit of the universe where we’ve found life. There’s no great other and opposite side in our fights, there’s only entropy, waiting to swallow everything we know back up into the chaos of the unaware and unfeeling universe. That we waste even a moment of our brief time hating each other is madness. But we do, and it’s a madness we have to deal with. Stop hating people, there’s no time for it, no possible rhyme or reason to it. Fight people’s false beliefs about the world, because they threaten not only to kill us, but also to make our extraordinary existence trivial and rob the meaning from our lives.

When we sit with our white supremacists and our addicts and abusers, we sit with our own flaws. If it weren’t so then they wouldn’t be any scarier than the open sky, or gravity, or a gun on the table, or getting old. The flaws that make us so angry are the ones that seem so close to eating us, an anger that feeds on us and turns us, like vampiracism for violence. We are not afraid of the other when we look at broken people, we are afraid of looking at ourselves and seeing the other, and then tearing ourselves apart.

Patriarchy, genders, whiteness and blackness were born as the abused children to first aristocracy, and then colonialism. They were set to fight for centuries. This is our legacy. My life, my existence and circumstance, is the product of genocide and rape, and most likely, so is yours. We all came from victims and aggressors, from slaves and slave masters going back thousands of years. Humans have been marking time in blood very possibly from the decline of all the other hominids. Now we have smart phones and social media and regularly look at ourselves from space. We watch movies about superhero powers and fractured families, and I think it’s no mistake. This is the myth of the truth of the moment — that we are powerful beyond our own understanding, and broken and angry within our dysfunctional family.

Proceed with truth and love.

My work for Emptywheel is supported by my wonderful patrons on Patreon. You can find out more, and support my work, at Patreon.

29 replies
  1. Drew says:

    When you say this”The engagement that works is a combination of personal connection, empathy, reciprocity, and then, only then, high quality information.” You don’t explicitly say that it requires character and values. I don’t think that that goes without saying. It’s important to own our own values, to know why we hold them and to have the character to hold those values in the face of opposition, as well as to change things about ourselves in order to grow more fully into the truthful core of our core values.

    I only mention this because you are discussing having integrity while loving people who do bad things. Lot’s of times love becomes sentimentalized and involves letting people off the hook (“Give him another chance”, “He’s really a good guy underneath, he doesn’t mean to always beat me”).  Your piece is good and your insights are important–but in loving those who violate our values, it’s important to know those values and keep them front and center. If empathy with self-pity becomes sympathy with self-pity we spiral down into moral vacuity.


    • Quinn Norton says:

      This is such an excellent point, and you’re right, it’s an oversight to not have realized it belongs in this piece. May I update the piece to quote you at the top?

  2. yogarhythms says:

    Thank you Quinn. “We have to build the future out of the past”. The words love and truth speak volumes in your article. Your article states ” We watch movies about superhero powers and fractured families, and I think it’s no mistake. This is the myth of the truth of the moment — that we are powerful beyond our own understanding, and broken and angry within our dysfunctional family.”  We walk on the face of the planet as our ancestors walked hundreds of thousands of years ago. Long ago you walked and talked for over 24 hours and all land animals except you died after 24 hours without rest. Strong arrived first and ate the best meat. Slow arrived later and ate what was left over. The division begins and has never stopped. Truth and Love. True love. Love is truth. Are the bridge Quinn is speaking of to engage the divided. Each of us has a unique ability to apply love and truth. How each of us manifests this potential within our divided selves and each other will enable our collective future.

  3. Ben burn says:

    Nice thoughts but one shouldn’t forget sociopaths mimic empathy by observing it in normal folks. You are just schooling them further so they can perfect their deceptions. Sorry.

  4. imasmakurmomsdum says:

    Love, confront falsehoods, and then love some more. This is beautiful and ends perfectly. Thank you.

  5. person1597 says:

    To create the past from the future (aka retrocausality), the living quality of “Mercy” strikes me as uniquely constructive, even if unrequited.

    Kind of in short supply these days…with notable exceptions…here at ew.

  6. it's complicated says:

    I’ve been lurking here for quite a while, I live in Germany but of course the US situation adds a lot to my worries about this world.
    This is one of the few places where I can learn from both posts and comments without losing all hope for humanity while reading the latter. A true distinction, sadly.
    This post resonated a lot with me, so here I am:)
    I think one key point is trying to reduce suffering and pain, and even just being ready and available whenever needed goes a long way.
    Just one little caveat from ~3 decades of trying this after ~2 spent getting to the point of being able to.
    This work can involve trade-offs and resource allocation problems.
    I had to give up on exactly two persons out of hundreds that crossed my way.
    One was a malignant narcissist and after finding out that the way to get him to be somewhat respectful was to behave like an asshole myself, I decided that I didn’t want to become like him.
    The other one was such an endless drain on my finite resources of energy and time that I decided that I would rather give up on him in order to be able to help *many* other people instead.
    In both cases, the reasons behind giving up seemed logical, but I still felt that I was too weak, maybe.
    The “drain” has returned now, but as his religious fanaticism has mostly made way for mild alcoholism he’s much easier to handle than he was before.
    The narcissist… now looks like the picture of Dorian Gray but didn’t change.
    Keep it up! I once tried being active in a political party and gave up because I felt that >80% of my energy was wasted in friction.
    So instead of “big” politics, I invest my hope and energy in “small” people. It’s what I can do, so I do it.

  7. James McNameless says:

    Remember when we used to think that with Internet dirty on everybody, we’d become a more tolerant nation? Surprise! Now we know the opposite is true. People are less tolerant than ever. It’s not just the weev’s and the deplorables who are less tolerant. Your besties on the left are, too.

    Quinn, just face it. The Internet has changed. The people you thought might be allies, were just one tweet away from destroying your career. Nobody is trustworthy. Loose networks are not alliances. Everybody is defenseless.

    Remember stranger danger. It was an old fear. There were educational movies made in the 50s and 60s about it. But things got worse and worse. Vehicular mobility was not mastered by new wisdom. It’s tensions grew rather than diminished, so that by the 1980s, the concept of the neighborhood precipitously collapsed. The crisis of local knowledge and security helped produce the child safety panic of the 1980s which emptied the streets of independent children. Now parents in many places are threatened with arrest if their children walk to school or ride public transportation alone.

    The same thing is happening today with the Internet, our generation’s great revolutionary mode of transport. Until yesterday (last week, last year, or maybe tomorrow) we thought we had it all in hand. A nice documentary about online privacy will do the trick. Maybe another article in the Wired or the Intercept. Let’s make another round at DefCon.

    No. It’s only going to get worse. And this time they’re really inside our heads, reading our thoughts typed into the search bar, or whispered within earshot of Alexa.

    Times they are a changin’! We’re progressin’ and advancin’ and gettin’ smarter, more bootyful. And one of these days, Quinn, we’re agonna be rich! Or at least we will. You’re going to be unemployed in the glorious future the Internet has planned for us.

  8. Catherine says:

    Do you ever have the feeling that an insincere person is just playing with your good will, taking advantage of your neediness? I am afraid that ‘pouring love on a selfish object’ (phrase from Thomas Merton) is a waste of time and a waste of love. Does it make you happy? Does it make him happy? Don’t you have better things to do with your time than to try to salvage a relationship with a poisonous person? Try to spend your time with people who can help *you, for a change. xx

    • Quinn Norton says:

      Yeah, this is a good point. When I feel like there’s no real connection there, I usually don’t spend much time on it. There isn’t much point if we’re not able to listen to  each other. And that does happen, and I’m sure it’s been my fault as well as the other person’s. There’s only 24 hours in the day, and that means choosing your battles.

  9. Drew says:

    You are most welcome to either quote me, or amend the post as you wish. I thought your piece was excellent enough to stick my neck out and enter into dialogue with.

  10. cat herder says:

    In between going out to buy more guns and going to rallies they’re sitting at home and watching state propaganda TV. Daily, hourly, they are being given permission to let it all out, being told their cruelty is really compassion and love of country. The time for talking to them about their feelings may be running short. I hope not. I would very much like to live in a world where they (and, in turn, we) can be saved through love and understanding and empathy and then forging a common understanding that we all need each other.

    Quinn, I don’t know where you live, but here in the deep, dark Red states it feels very much like it’s too late for any of that. I envy you more than a little.

  11. Peacerme says:

    This is so true. The book I want to write is how the behaviors of Power and control, the paradigm of Power and control, literally robs us of our ability to discern fact from fiction or judgment. If mental illness has two invariant mechanisms:
    1) difficulties discerning fact from judgment, dichotomous or emotional thinking.
    2) emotional dysregulation, impacted by our inability to discern truth.

    Then, power and control induces dysregulation as it replaces truth, fact discernment, by using the emotions of fear, disgust, guilt and shame to manipulate. While trauma is clearly a factor in breaches with reality and mood disorder, at the root, the invalidating behaviors of power and control, literally scramble the fragile system of human perception. Violence is not required to create this damage.

    Behaviors of a power and control paradigm:

    A) Intimidation, manipulates by causing, manufacturing fear.
    B) Mind games manipulate by manufacturing shame and disgust.
    C) Isolation (shunning, prison, silent treatment) manipulates by causing deep shame that one is not good enough for the tribe.
    D) Minimize, Deny and Blame manipulates shame and accountability and is ultimately at adds with truth.
    E) People as objects uses shame to render some humans as sub humans. Uses shame to isolate people based on random characteristics.
    F) Entitlement uses shame to raise an authoritarian above others for random characteristics.
    G) Using money, economics and resources to manufacture fear.
    H) Coercion and threats manufacture fear.

    It is more so the breach with truth that occurs when a human being divorces the self to reluctantly attend to the authoritarian. Chronic attendance to an authoritarian literally requires encountering psychological or physical pain to stay in truth. Eventually the human brain may divorce its own system of perception and replace it with that of the authoritarian. (Modern day parenting, though slowly being replaced).
    God is truth. Truth is god. And our pursuit of truth, is our only salvation. When we find truth, it is so much more gentle than the emotion mind perseverance that occurs from dichotomous thinking and the breach from self. It is hard to find, requires hard work, and most of all the ability to recognize things we do not know. It accepts a lack of absolutes. (Even in the field of physics where the laws of nature are rarely replaced).

    The power and control paradigm literally damages the human brain, and may be one of the most prevalent causes of mental illness, because it literally forces codepency. We learn to try to manipulate and control the rage of the authoritarian by divorcing our system of perception and looking outside ourselves by reading faces, body language and thoughts of others. (Which is a helpful skill but less accurate than when regulating ourselves, for judgments, biases, emotions that are unhelpful or based on falseness. Followers are created in a power and control paradigm.) Basic training, coaching, schools, religions all paragons of power and control.

    When we see truth, we use non judgment, we remove obstacles to love. We remove the blindness that occurs with the denial that is created by deep pain and fear of ultimately being abandoned by the tribe. Self righteousness (a product of power and control based on belief not facts, like alcohol or drugs. “I am right” as validated by the authoritarian instead of truth or nature, biology or physics. Since the dichotomy of “right” cannot exist in reality, being validated by being relieved of psychological or physical pain, by the authoritarian, rewards us for following, for divorcing ourselves and renders the most chronically invalidated as dependent on authority.) Someone tell me what to do because I can’t trust my perceptions!! I seek righteousness and absolutes like a drug to feel better. I will follow the one who tells me what is “right” and what is “wrong”. And yet, there is no peace in this because “right” does not exist, peace becomes impossible. Reality becomes fragmented by needs and dysregulated emotions cannot be regulated by regulating others. Denial, a physiological inability to “see” truth occurs as in perfectionism, alcoholism, drug addiction, food compulsions, narcissism and codependency replaces truth. Denial is created by manipulating deep fear and shame. That’s why serenity prayer is helpful, why “letting go” works, why believing in a power greater than self rescues us from the Power and control paradigm. They are ideas that help. As does the dialectic as it frees us from dichotomy. Love, acceptance literally leads us to truth. We cannot change what we refuse to accept. Yes….love works!

    Sorry this is long winded. You laid it out beautifully. This world view feels important and valid to me!

    Finally, the most threatening behavior to Power and control, is to speak truth, and it scares me to say this but I believe this “could” be true, that one must be willing to suffer psychological or physical pain to address it, in a power and control paradigm. One must be willing to die for truth because our salvation relies on our commitment to it. Love=truth, truth=acceptance. Acceptance=love. We die in wars of righteousness which is not the same as truth. Righteousness is told to us, given to us by a persuasive authority. Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr. the truth is in our stories. Our deities, our hero’s are willing to die speaking truth to power. They cannot be controlled by the authoritarian because they reject the paradigm. One death speaks volumes and validates humanity, where war invalidates humanity. Power and control paradigms fears truth. Fear the unafraid. If I am not afraid, the authoritarian cannot control me. So they kill the truth speakers, the fearless, the peacemakers!

    • matt says:

      The power and control paradigm literally damages the human brain, and may be one of the most prevalent causes of mental illness, because it literally forces codepency. We learn to try to manipulate and control the rage of the authoritarian by divorcing our system of perception and looking outside ourselves by reading faces, body language and thoughts of others.

      This was the thesis of Alice Miller’s “For Your Own Good, Hidden Roots of Cruelty in Child Rearing.”  Basically we stomp out tenderness/individuality, forcing children to obey the wills of parents.  Children raised in authoritarian homes will seek authoritarianism in all walks of their future life, and depend on absolutist solutions for any personal or political problem.

      The intolerance they received by their caretakers for their innate sensitivity or uniqueness will be a festering pain deep inside the soul- for which they will only get relief by repeating intolerance and hatred on others.

      A whole lot of people need therapy.  We have so many new Trauma resolving and soul affirming therapies now (EMDR, DBT, Internal Family Systems, Somatic Experiencing).  It’s too bad, that instead of healing our psyches, the mainstream mental health system wants to medicate us all.


  12. TheraP says:

    I’m responding to a lot of the comments here (so far):

    Love is a good thing.  I think it’s the key in all teaching and also in all psychotherapy.  Friendship and marriage as well.

    However:  We all have a right to set limits.   And we all have a right to decide whether someone merits our time and attention.  Because “we all have our limits.”

    As a therapist, I learned in my training that I did better with people who were anxious or depressed.  And that I was never going to be the best therapist for narcissists.  (I drew the line entirely at sociopaths.  Which is not to say I refused to work with former prison inmates:  they are not all sociopaths and those I worked with were wonderful human beings.)

    For those with difficult character disorders, I used to say something to them like:  “You grew up playing hardball.  I play softball.  So if you want to work with me, you need to learn how to play my game.”

    Softball definitely includes being very firm, when necessary.  (Well, I’m retired now.  But still.)

    Setting limits is vital.  No matter how much love you are willing to put forth.  (One person I worked with for about 20 years, the first several years I described to myself as:  “walking endlessly on a bed of nails.”  But in the end, it paid off – with a severely abused person, who had never been abusive – as this person’s walls finally were slowly lowered.)

    Be OK with setting limits.  Keep telling yourself:  “this person is making decisions.”  Make sure you keep reminding the person, if necessary, where your limits are – where their decisions lie.  So, for example:  “You have a decision to make.  If you want this relationship to continue, you need to decide whether or not you want to change (whether or not you’re willing to accept responsibility for your own behavior, whether or not you’re going to look at yourself & your own behavior or just keep blaming others…  etc.)

    Trying to help anyone bumps you up against your own self.  So be compassionate to that self – your self – too!

    I don’t ever claim to have all the answers.  But I’ve tried to impart some suggestions.

    • matt says:

      Thank you for your service as a therapist.  I was one of those people who “didn’t need” therapy or help… until one day… I realized that I did.  Addressing  the roots of reactive behaviors and negative cognitions allowed me to both feel better in my own skin and to treat others with more kindness and tolerance.  Self-actualization, healing from trauma, and finding “spiritual” meaning in ones life is a path that should be embraced by modern culture.  There is a whole new world of brain based therapies that are having success with the very difficult to treat conditions:  narcissism, addiction, borderline personality, PTSD, and even criminal pathologies.  For, all those in the clinical health care please find an EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprogramming) specialist to make referrals to.  Here are two leaders in the field:

      Shirley Jean Schmidt

      Laurel Parnell


  13. 4jkb4ia says:

    One of TNC’s observations from Between The World and Me that stuck with me is that no one really has put their finger on what blackness is. Blackness is really a conversation between a great variety of ideologies and backgrounds. People who want to undo discrimination are really at the focal point between the discriminated group’s conversation about itself and the discriminating group’s conversation which can distort or exclude or reduce. It’s really important to listen equally actively to both. Otherwise you have a conversation only about stereotyping.

  14. 4jkb4ia says:

    On the political conversation level it’s important to be honest about what you don’t like about someone or something. People have learned to say racist or sexist just to put things or people beyond the pale when that is not really what is bothering them or others’ attention should go to things that are dangerous–but not obviously discriminatory. In 2018 there are token powerful people of all demographic groups and the arguments for justifying why someone should have power have to pay lip service to helping everybody who is already here even when that is not the case. The question is whether the argument is itself racist or the message makers know that it will appeal more to racists than others.

  15. Erin McJ says:

    I know you are committed to this worldview, because (among other things) you were willing to lose a plum job because of it without complaint. I am so impressed by the grace you have shown throughout this episode, and continue to show.

  16. matt says:

    Quinn, wonderful post.  To some here, I may seem like a monkey wrench in the smooth flow of comments… but I spend quite a bit of time among conservatives, trying to break their false beliefs about poverty, race, war, religion, etc…  I think we all have “false” beliefs and can grow through dialog.

    To me, the problem is mixing false beliefs with power.  As Rayne’s post, “About Making Nice” clearly illustrates it becomes nearly impossible to “love” and “listen to” an adversary when they are ramming injustice down your throat.  All the more complicated when injustice becomes ingrained into the social structures of society.

    I asked this question on her post, when is it OK to fight? What are the parameters of “justified violence?”

    • matt says:

      I think “pacifist” is the more accurate word.  This is a tough one for me after reading Tolstoy (The Kingdom of God is Within You) which inspired Gandhi… who inspired King.  I know that ideologically and spiritually they are right.  And, there is no doubt that passive resistance can initiate massive change- as it did for ending British occupation of India, or Civil Rights in the US.

      But I am disturbed by the establishments quick “learning curve.”  Passive resistance demonstrations are easily sabotaged/infiltrated by paid agitators, undercover agents, and/or bad actors in the protest who cannot control their temper.  Ferguson and Standing Rock were met with military combat level suppression/intimidation.  How does protest strategy change in light of these developments?

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