A while ago we were discussing the song “White Wine in the Sun” by Tim Minchin in our discord. It has the line “I’d rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu to be honest.” I was talking about how the whole song perfectly reflects my feelings, except that line. While I know it is Minchin’s way of averring his secularity, Tutu has always been one of my greatest heroes – a human moving through the world with grace and joy and kindness and humour; someone who managed to look the most evil darkness right in the eyes and maintain his steely strength, his integrity, and his joy in the world.
When I was a teen, we went on a school trip to Cape Town. The teacher we were with made us go to a Midnight Mass because Tutu was giving it. I was a stupid teen who was not religious, and I remember very little of the mass itself. But at the end, I shook the hand of the smiling man who had given it. He looked right at me, like he saw me. I remember having just a moment of feeling seen and then I moved on and he greeted the next person and that was it. I wish I had been wiser enough to realise the greatness that was greeting me. That was the only time I got the opportunity to meet him.
I read about his death yesterday, standing in a towel, scrolling through facebook after my shower. I uttered a small “Oh… oh no” and sat down. He was 90 and old and ill, but in my heart he was invincible. He was the best of humanity. He was a piece of my home and my history, and it had never occurred to me that he could be gone. I cried a little, and then got dressed and went out to people again.
Last night I scrolled through Twitter, and saw a huge myriad of people posting his quotes. He said so many wise and wonderful things. He spoke much about forgiveness and humanity and love. It is easy to forget that he was also a man of strength, a man of convictions, a man of integrity. He was a man who stood up against injustice always and no matter who was behind it. He was steel and power wrapped in kindness and joy which, honestly, is the most potent combination. He was everything I aspire to be.
I remember, years ago, hearing about some world leader mocking the fact that he danced and laughed at formal events. I don’t remember who it was. I remember thinking at the time how much they had misread him. How they had mistaken his easy nature, his unabashed joy for some kind of weakness. You fool, I thought, that is the source of his strength.
Tutu has been a massive influence on my life and who I have become and who I try to be. And I’m just one dumb white girl who grew up in 90s South Africa. I expect his influence on those he taught and those he worked with was a million times more.
I believe the mark of a successful life is one where you leave the world better than you found it. Archbishop Desmond Tutu did that beyond the wildest dreams of most people. I don’t believe in Heaven, but today I hope there is one, so he can dance there in joy forever.
A great light has gone out. But the sparks and fires he started will burn for generations.
My birthday is coming up! I’ll be 42, so obviously I will become super wise and understand the meaning of life.
You know what I really want for my birthday? Freedom. I want to be able to quit my job and do Wolfenoot and Sparabel and Critter Gifting (and the other more neglected projects) full time. That is what I want. It’s probably not going to happen in the next year, but there are ways you can help us get there!
I have been informed that I should do a link consolidation so that people know how to help/support the work we are doing. So here it is.
I want to help; I can throw some money at you. Where is the best place to do it?
All the money from this goes straight into our bills/household expenses. So this is the most direct way to get me to the “quit my job” stage. If this one hit about US$2500, I could quit my job and not worry about bills at all. Everything would be covered. We’re a long way from that, but every little bit helps. 🙂
You will receive nifty supporter badges at specific points, to celebrate your time with me. The higher your patronage, the cooler the form of the badges. 🙂
Subscribing on twitch or becoming a patron (www.patreon.com/sparabel) supports the work we’re doing on Sparabel. At the moment, it is all being ploughed back into the stream in the form of tech upgrades, DNDBeyond content, character art, etc. If your goal is to help us grow and improve the stream, this is a good way to do it.
We have badges for the Patreon for Sparabel too, and becoming a subscriber on Twitch gets you access to a swathe of Gallant Horde content on our Discord.
The Wolfenoot Patreon supports the work we’re doing with Wolfenoot, covers a lot of admin costs, pays our amazing Wolfenoot moderators, and allows us to use merch profits for charitable stuff. Speaking of merch, you can get it on our website or on Redbubble.
The CG Patreon is mostly divided between the mods and the elves. The rest is used to cover administrative costs. It is a great way to show some support for the people who keep the community running. Again, we have badges!
I want to help, but I can’t afford to do it financially.
That’s wonderful! We have loads of ways you can help us grow without spending a cent.
Adam and I are pretty open about being polyamorous. It’s a bit hypothetical right now, as neither of us are dating anyone else, but that has more to do with having busy lives and (in my case) low bandwidth for other relationships than anything else. It is still on the table should a shiny person come along. 😉
I spend a lot of time lurking in Polyam Discussion groups, and oh lordy, I see a lot of terrible behaviour going on and being justified by being polyam.
SO. This is a PSA.
My darlings! Polyamory is not:
* A license to do whatever the hell you damn well please with total disregard for anyone else’s feelings. You’re still being an asscactus, and you’re minimising the work the rest of us do to do it thoughtfully and with integrity. If you’re gaslighting people, or insisting that they dismiss their own feelings and needs in the name of your ‘freedom’ you’re a douche. Stop it. You’re making us all look bad.
* A solution to your crumbling relationship. Take it from someone who knows – if you resort to polyam to save a relationship that is already in tatters, you will only drive it there faster. Introducing more people to your drama, insecurities and incompatibilities is a fools errand AND it’s really not fair on the people you introduce. Polyam has a habit of highlighting all the cracks in your relationship, and if you’re not willing and able to do the work to actually address them, all it will do is make them bigger.
* A solution to cheating. If someone is cheating, there is a good chance it is not ONLY about the ‘sex with other people’. There is probably a lot more going on there. To be quite frank, the excitement and thrill of the ‘forbidden’ is often a big part of why people cheat, and if that’s the case, they will likely still hide things and lie. Unless you first dismantle the root of the cheating, polyam will just give it a coat of paint without resolving the cracks.
* Bloody hard emotional work. It’s totally worth it, but you can’t just get to “meaningful and sexually satisfying relationships with multiple people” without also getting the scheduling issues, the long talks about people’s boundaries, the work you have to do with YOURSELF about your own preconceptions and ideologies. There is a lot more discussion and a lot less orgies than people seem to think.
* An ongoing conversation with everyone involved. It’s not static, folks, because people are not static. It is constantly in flux depending on where people are in their lives and what’s going on for them. If you’re not prepared to constantly re-address everyone’s needs including your own, it’s not going to work.
I would not go back to monogamy, even though right now I only have one partner and not really any time or bandwidth for others. The power of being able to talk about my crushes with my love and the possibility that if I meet someone who makes my soul sing I won’t have to choose is too great to give up. I also genuinely LOVE the constant reassessing, the fact that we don’t have to label every person we meet into boxes and can just let things be what they are.
I think a lot of people in a monogamous mindset spend a lot of time putting everyone they meet into “would date” and “would not date” boxes, whereas we get to just let relationships develop organically and address the feels if and when they happen. As a person who has always had a bit of blur between love and friendship, this is much more healthy for me, personally, and it works a lot better for Adam too.
But it’s not for everyone. That’s fine and good. Some people are built monogamous, and that is perfectly normal.
I would say though, that it’s also not for the manipulative asscactii who use it as an excuse to treat everyone like shit and then crow about how you’re not allowed to limit their “freedom” with your dumb feelings. Those people are jerks and do not deserve the rewards of polyam. Don’t date them.
There is a totally delightful interview by Emma Watson of Lin Manuel Miranda, which she did as part of her HeforShe movement. It’s a delight, because they start off both kind of fangirling about each other, but then they connect over their shared passion for art and writing, and they’re both such warm expressive people that you can’t help but be drawn in by their passion and warmth. It is wonderful.
At one point Miranda tells Watson a story about a letter from Hamilton to Lawrence in which he talks about needing to find a wife, and reveals his arrogance and his misogyny, and Watson is disappointed, and they go on to have this exchange:
LMM: Your faves are problematic. They’re ALL problematic! EW: People are problematic, that’s the difficulty.
It’s a small moment, but there is so much in it.
Here’s the thing. Humans are a mess. The moment you start putting people on pedestals, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Some people are, obviously, more lovely than others. But none of us sprang fully formed, with all our ideas consistent and perfectly intact.
THAT BEING SAID, if someone is consistently abusive, or refuses to examine and reject their abhorrent beliefs, we should hold them accountable for that. But what if said person has created something that you love, something that fundamentally informed who you are and who you grew into? How do you reconcile that?
I do not have this problem with Harry Potter and JK Rowling. I read them when they came out, but I was already almost 20, and the stories that were to be the basis of my being had already seeped into my brain. I did not encounter the HP world at a particularly formative moment, and, though I enjoyed them, they didn’t blow me away or become part of my soul. I can identify vaguely as a Ravenclaw, but it’s not a huge part of my identity in any way. So, while JKR’s TERF ideology is disappointing and shitty, it’s not particularly heartbreaking for me, personally.
But one of the stories that did matter, that did appear in my life just when I needed it, that I did love beyond reason, was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I believed the narrative that Joss Whedon was a feminist and a visionary. I believed he meant the things he said about equality and loving strong women. I believed that Buffy represented his ideologies. I was wrong.
Turns out that Joss, like so many men of his type, talks the talk very effectively, but does not remotely walk the walk. Turns out he only loves strong women if they do what he wants or, I suppose, if he creates them, because then he can make them into who he wants. Real women are more complex than that, and don’t always follow the narrative you have set out for them. Turns out he’s abusive and predatory and, basically, a fairly average, run of the mill geek-creep.
In retrospect, this is not actually that surprising. Xander, who is in many ways Joss’s avatar in Buffy, is DEEPLY problematic. He gets better over the course of the series, and definitely has some wonderful moments, but overwhelmingly he is, honestly, pretty ikky. I, of course, did not notice this as a teenager in the 90s, because the kinds of things he said and did were, in every romcom I saw, in every TV show I watched, in many of the books I read, portrayed as ‘cute’. And I was not yet old and wise enough to fully dissect my own viewpoints.
That being said, Buffy taught me some really important things. It taught me that a girl can be girly and badass – that as a female human in the world, I didn’t have to choose one of those. It taught me that found family is important, that surrounding yourself with people who have your back is vital to surviving in the world. It taught me that heroes can be complicated, broken people who struggle. It taught me that we fight to make the world better, but you never win, the darkness keeps coming and you have to keep fighting it, but the fight is still worth fighting. It taught me, ultimately, that shared power is stronger than keeping it to yourself.
It is definitely one of my formative stories. So what do I do with that, when it turns out that the person behind this thing that means so much to me is a complete asscactus?
I’ve grappled with this for a while. Joss’s abusive, predatory nature is not news to me. When JK went full TERF and people who loved HP were grappling with that, I was like:
I kept meaning to write about it, and then putting it off, and now Joss is back in the news for the same shit and I figured it was time.
Here’s the thing. As a writer, I believe that we only do part of the work. We draw the story out of the ether and get it into words. And then we send it into the world. And once you send it into the world, it isn’t entirely yours any more. It becomes a new thing, a thing of its own that people interact with. And each time someone interacts with it, they turn it into something that means something to them. And it grows and evolves. Much like a child, you may have something to do with the direction it takes, and how it starts out, but the further away from you it gets, the more it becomes something out of your control. And that is good and right.
So I think it is okay if stories that have changed and evolved you, stories that are part of who you are, remain important to you, even after you find out that their creators are problematic. I think it is okay for you to still love the characters and the story and what it means to you.
For me, the line is not to support creators any more if they reveal themselves to be asscactii. That may be as simple as not buying official merch. Get the books second hand. Buy from indie artists. Commission your creative friends. I don’t put money in the pockets of people whose personal ideologies I find abhorrent. I may still love their stories, but they won’t get my support.
JKR no longer controls the HP world, despite her legal teams and her copyright law. That may control what merch is in the world, but it doesn’t control the way the story interacts with your brain and the things about it that matter to you. Joss Whedon may own the rights to Buffy (I genuinely don’t know, but I assume he does), but he doesn’t own the rights to the way the stories resonated with people. That is as much Sarah Michelle Gellar’s, and Jane Espenson’s, and yours.
Finally, we all figure out our own lines – what we will accept, where we stand, what we give up and what we retain. I think it is right and normal to grieve for the narrative of a geeky man who turned out not to be as much of a visionary and ally as we may have thought he was. I think it is right and good to grieve for the woman we thought understood about difference and acceptance, but it turned out she had gross limitations to that. I think it’s normal to grieve when we discover that our faves are problematic.
I will say this. I will always support trans people. I will always support abuse survivors. I will always be proud of people who speak out. And, unfortunately, I will never be surprised when it turns out that people I admire are asscactii. Disappointed, but never surprised.
But there is a version of Buffy in my head that is mine, and Joss can’t have that back. And maybe that will have to be enough.
I started writing this post as a response to a meme on Facebook, but it got long, so I am putting it here. 🙂
The meme in question:
Allow me to talk about jealousy for a bit. It is a hotly debated topic in polyam circles, but a lot of what I have learned over the years is relevant to monogamous relationships as well.
Let me start by saying, I am not a very jealous person. I don’t expect to control my partners and I get testy when they try and control me. Usually, when someone I am involved with does sexual/romantic things with someone else, the thing that upsets me is them hiding it or keeping it a secret much more than the actual details of what happened. This has been true for me long before I even knew that polyamory was a thing.
That being said, I have felt something resembling jealousy, and what I have learned is that it almost always is a sign of something else.
Jealousy is a symptom. The trick is working out the cause. In recent years, mostly when I feel something like this it is because I have reservations about the person in question (by which I mean the person my partner is interested in). When we work on identifying and resolving those reservations, the feeling goes away. This is definitely helped by the fact that he has learned to trust my gut, so if I have strong “NOPE” feelings about a person, he will proceed with caution. We don’t do veto (because I have no interest in controlling him and vice versa), but he does take my instincts into account. This is something that has been built though, based on my gut having a pretty good track record. 🙂
In previous years, it has usually been a symptom of insecurity, or concern that the “new shiny person” will be more interesting than me and ultimately push me out of the picture. This is a direct result of this actually happening to me in a past relationship. My current relationship, however, is solid, so as time has passed and I have moved further away from the event that resulted in this insecurity, it has become less of an issue.
In mono relationships, I think it is amplified by the exclusivity narrative. I tend to think that if you or your partner is ‘straying’, then there is a conversation that needs to happen about why, what needs are not being met, what is driving this behaviour. My experience has been that OFTEN it is not actually anything to do with the existing partner, and frequently there is something else going on there. However, this often doesn’t even get looked at in mono relationships because it gets buried under a mountain of blame and betrayal and the over-simplified idea that the cheater is ALWAYS the villain of the piece no matter what the circumstances. Spoiler: humans are a lot more complicated than that. 😉
Don’t get me wrong, it’s never a good thing to break whatever commitments you have made in relationships, and there are definitely some people are not good at healthy relationships. I have been that person. I have cheated, been cheated on, and been cheated with, so I am fairly well versed in all sides of this story. But I think because we have oversimplified the ‘exclusivity’ narrative to something like “If you would even LOOK at someone else, you obviously don’t love me”, a lot of nuance gets lost. For me, it had absolutely nothing to do with the person I was with, and everything to do with the way my brain was connecting (or not) at the time.
Sometimes, though, jealousy is straight up a symptom of controlling, narcissistic abuse. If your partner won’t let you go out wearing makeup, or won’t let you go out with your friends without them, or gets upset literally any time you talk to another human of whom they have not approved, insists on having access to your personal messages, phone, emails, then you need to GET THE FUCK OUT. This level of jealousy is a big ol’ red flag no matter what your relationship structure. It’s not cute, it’s definitely not proof of love, it’s a problem that is only going to get worse. It is, in many ways, a violence, and is often a precursor to actual physical violence. People don’t and should not OWN or BELONG to each other in the sense of property.
Also, totally anecdotally, but it has been my experience that people who behave in these ways do so often because they are expecting you to behave the way they do. So there’s a good chance that if they accuse you of cheating every time you leave the house without them, it is because they are. That’s not the point though – if someone is displaying this level of controlling behaviour, the best thing you can do for yourself is leave as soon as possible.
The thing is, jealousy is an emotion, and like so many emotions, is a valid thing which there is no point repressing or denying. However, if you want to handle it healthily, the trick is to drill down and try and find the source of it. Is it insecurity? Why do you feel insecure? Is it concern? What’s concerning you? Your emotions are valid and real, but that doesn’t give you a free pass to act like an asscactus. It certainly doesn’t give you a free pass to try and control and manipulate your partner(s).
If you treat it like physical pain – as an early warning system for something being wrong – then it can be a very powerful tool. “Oh, I am feeling jealousy. What is going on here? Where is this coming from?”
I’m a big advocate for the idea that if you’re in a relationship, you’re a team. If you treat this sort of thing as “Us vs the problem” instead of “You vs me”, then it is much more likely to be resolved. That doesn’t mean every conversation is easy. Sometimes these conversation are really hard, especially if your ways of processing things are different. But if you want a healthy relationship, regardless of what structure you choose, then these things are worth talking about.
As always, my advice comes down to TALK TO EACH OTHER. Communication is the foundation of a good relationship, always, no matter the circumstances. Jealousy can be fraught with peril, but if you address it healthily it can uncover some much deeper things that, once addressed, will make you stronger (or let you know you need to get out).
This is the time of year when a lot of people get the urge to send me things. I am always grateful, please don’t get me wrong. I love getting random mail from critters and wolfenati alike, as well as from those of you not as easily categorised.
Honestly, though, we have SO MUCH STUFF.
What I really need is time. And the good news is, you can give that to me!
My greatest heart’s desire right now is to have the financial freedom to quit my day job and do all this crazy internet stuff I do full time. I don’t know what you call a person who builds communities and makes magical things happen and spreads kindness and joy and raises money for charities and makes nifty content, but that is what I want to be when I grow up. I try to be that now. But I have to do it around the edges of my life because of frikkin’ bills.
Everything you see me do and create and accomplish online I do pretty much between the hours of 5:00am and 6:30am. An hour and a half of focussed attention each day. I will try to squeeze in bits and pieces of other things during the day, but the bulk of it happens then. That’s about 7.5 hours a week.
Take a moment, and imagine what I could do if I added the 16 hours I currently spend at the Zoo, if I could focus that energy on Critter Gifting, Sparabel, Wolfenoot, The Raven.
For as little as a single dollar a month, you could give me the time and freedom to really pursue this stuff, to really pour my energy into it, instead of trying to keep all these balls up around the edges of my life.
I have run the numbers, and I can move on this when I am clearing US$2500 in total, per month. That covers fees and taxes and all of my share of the bills, with just a tiny bit left over for, you know, clothes for our rapidly expanding children (geez, kids grow fast), and car servicing and whatnot.
That’s the goal. Right now I am sitting at about US$900. That leaves $1600, which is really not that huge a target, given the size and magic of my communities.
Humans, please, help me make this a reality. Become a patron. For less the price of a cup of coffee a month, you can help to give me my heart’s desire.
Here’s a list of the ways you can support me, in order of helpfulness (to me, specifically):
This one is for my fellow middle-aged white women.
There is a thing I have been thinking about a lot recently. If you are a white woman of a certain age, you have what I think of as Karen energy. You have it whether you want it or not. This is one of those things about privilege. You don’t get to decide you don’t want it, you only get to decide what to do with it.
What I mean by Karen energy is this. It is simply that if you complain loudly, you are more likely to be taken note of and paid attention to by the Authorities and the Powers That Be than many other demographics. That’s just one of those things that is true. It shouldn’t be, but it is.
So, with great power comes great responsibility, right?
I have been working on figuring out ways to subvert that Karen energy and use it for good. In short, what that means is using your loud white female voice to stand up for people who don’t have access to it, instead of using it to maintain your privilege (which is what the more traditional “Karen” does, yeah?)
Back when I was a single Mom on the benefit, I would occasionally have to go into WINZ for interviews, etc. I almost always got better treatment there than many of the other people who were there for the same reasons. Because I am a white woman, with a pretty accent who is good at words. There was a day when I had an appointment at a particular time. They were backed up (they always are), and time flowed past as we waited. Also waiting was a young, maybe 20-year-old, Pacifica woman with two very small children – a breastfeeding infant and a toddler who was gradually getting more bored and tired and therefore rowdy.
I went up to the counter and politely told them that I would have to leave at a particular time because I had another commitment, and they started hustling to make sure I got my appointment. I then added, “That woman has been here longer than me, with two small kids. I can come back relatively easily, but that’s probably not true for her. Could you maybe help her out, too?” And they did. I had seen her go up and try and get them to help several times and be sent back to her seat. When I (politely) threw my weight about it, however, she got helped.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it is some bullshit that I get listened to when others don’t. However, if the world is going to insist on keeping that true, I am going to use that power to help the people who get ignored.
This also means loudly complaining when someone is being racist in public. This also means asking for the manager when a member of public is being an ass to a 19 year old barista and querying why on earth they let people talk to their staff that way? (This gives managers ammo, you see – “Excuse me, Sir, but we’ve had a complaint…”) It means getting up in the white suit’s face when he pushes in front of a young black woman in a queue (assuming you can do so safely – white women are still women, and there is still peril in that.). It means being the one to stand up in the workplace when your younger, less secure colleagues are being unfairly treated.
Karen energy, but subverted for good. White folks, we can’t deny our privilege. We can’t pretend it’s not there. But you’d better believe that we can use it to stand between the bigots and their victims. You’d better believe we can use it as a weapon against the system that gave it to us, unfairly. And, quite honestly, if you are a vaguely decent human being with a white skin, that is what you will do. It is our responsibility, in my opinion, to use our unfair advantages to level the playing field as much as we can.
So join me. If you’re a white woman of “Karen” age, help me subvert that energy and use it for good. Start using that voice that is listened to to say something of value. Start making a fuss about things that matter. Amplify the voices that need to be heard.
Several years ago I took my lazy, unfit ass off to a pole-dancing class. My instructor, Chennay, was a shining bouncing wonder of a human, full of love and actual genuine positivity – the kind born out of struggle. I fell in love. With pole. (And a little bit with Chennay, in a non-romantic way. 😉 )
I have flirted with pole ever since, trying to find ways to incorporate it into my life, despite both budgetary and time pressures. About, oh, I dunno, a year ago? I stopped going. Because I couldn’t give it the time I felt I needed to in order to make actual progress, and my lack of progress was making me feel like a failure.
A couple of days ago I had a conversation with Adam about how I keep putting off going back because there is always something else that needs to take priority, and he said, “When are you going to prioritise yourself?”
Here’s the thing. When I am doing pole, my brain is better. My body is stronger, and that makes me healthier, gives me more energy, and makes me less mentally unstable. There’s just no denying the benefits to me.
So I am going back. Four times a week, this time (though one of those is a hoops class, because I wanna branch out a little). This is… not a cheap endeavour, but we have rearranged the budget enough to make it work. Because I need this.
On my Bardic Inspiration patreon, I have promised that if I hit $250 I will post a video of my pole expertise (don’t laugh 😛 ) to patrons. Because that would more than cover the classes and the gear.
If anything I have ever done has inspired you or made your life better, please consider becoming a patron. You can help me do this thing that really, genuinely has a massive positive effect on my mental health.
Also you’ll get awesome badges! The BI logo is a d20 with a bee! Those are two of the objectively coolest things in the world! 😉
I’m gonna quibble over semantics in this post. Bear with me.
Cancel culture is not the same as consequences. Cancel culture is gross and toxic. Consequences are not.
Here’s how I see the difference.
Mike* has a reasonably large internet following for some reason and has built a business out of it – merch, public appearances, whatever. Mike goes on a diatribe about, say BLM or LGBTQ rights and how fucking stupid they are. It turns out, with some digging, that Mike has also publicly said some stupid racist shit, and that this is something that happens a lot. When the inevitable backlash begins, Mike posts a non-apology. You know the ones. “I am sorry if what I said offended anyone; I was just saying how I feel. It’s just my opinion.” Mike’s business tanks and he vanishes into the internet graveyard reserved for people with shitty opinions.
These are consequences. This is happening in real time. Mike had an opportunity to genuinely do some soul searching and do better, and instead he chose to double down behind “it’s just my opinion”. He deserves what he got.
Paul** was a bit of a dick in his youth. He said some stupid racist shit on Twitter. Since then he has read a lot of books and watched a lot of talks by people who know their shit and he has listened to their lived experience and learned better. He now makes solid internet content that is informed by his growth as a person and tries to keep learning and be better all the time. But, alas, someone digs up some of those shitty tweets and uses them as evidence that Paul is actually a racist piece of shit. Paul comes out and takes ownership of said shitty tweets, agrees that they are shitty and explains that he has done loads of work in the intervening years to get past that crappy viewpoint and now still constantly works to be better. The mob doesn’t care and Paul is cancelled, with no account given for the work he has done in the interim.
This is cancel culture, and is toxic. Because it doesn’t allow for the fact that people grow and change and learn to be better. I really think before we throw the baby away with the bathwater, we need to stop and consider which of these categories we’re dealing with.
People can and do change. Isn’t that what so much of our work is predicated on? I have to believe people can learn to be better, or everything I do is a waste of time, including this post. We need to encourage that, not destroy people for once having held a terrible viewpoint.
I remember seeing something once about how we shouldn’t punish people for doing the thing we keep asking them to do. If your kid never comes and hangs out with you, and then one day they do, it’s counterproductive to go “Oh! Look who decided to join us!” because you don’t know what it cost them to give it a try. “Oh hey, it was awesome to hang with you today” is far more likely to encourage the behaviour.
So when we see people GENUINELY (this bit is important) trying to learn and be better, when we see people who have actively moved themselves from a place of bigotry or casual racism/sexism/homophobia to BE BETTER, can we maybe say to them, “Wow, look how far you have come! I am so proud of you!” instead of “Gods, you once had a terrible opinion, you are now a PARIAH FOREVER.”
That’s not encouraging people to change, my loves. ❤
This is one of my life mantras:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then do better.” – Maya Angelou. (Paraphrased slightly to make it an imperative. 😉 )
* Mike is a fictional example
** Paul is also a fictional example
Being in New Zealand right now, in the era of COVID19, is a very weird thing. I am in enough touch with the world that I am watching other countries still in intense crisis – and, in many cases, getting worse.
In New Zealand, we have had two new cases in the last week. We’re back at work, kids are back at school. It’s not back to normal, exactly, just yet, but we’re all more or less getting on with our lives.
This is doing a number on my mental health. While it was Big Super Crisis, I was actually handling it okay. There were ups and downs, of course, but for the most part, I was coping. This week has messed me up, though. I think it’s because I’m trying to exist with a foot in each space – on the one hand, prep for Level 1 where my job will (presumably) go back to normal (mostly), and everything will mozy on the way it was; on the other hand, prep for a second wave where we all have to lock that shit down again. Because we really don’t know which way it is going to go.
And then there’s the fact that it feels like here in NZ we exist in this bizarre privileged bubble where this thing that is ravaging the world is leaving us largely untouched, but also not, you know, because we are still part of the world, and so we are still feeling effects of it. But I feel like an asshole for struggling mentally and emotionally when I am so damned lucky to be in what is arguably one of the safest countries in the world right now.
And then there’s the thing where, as long as we’re in crisis, I can function, because I have to, because I operate well in crisis mode (I lived there for years), and I will do what needs to be done. But now that things are chilling out, all that stress and mental upheaval is coming home to roost and I just want to cry and curl up and sleep for days. But, we’re back to normal! So I can’t, because I have to do Normal Things.
In short, my brain is an asshole. And I would like to trade it in for a better model, now, please.