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November 11, 2016

Your rage is justified.

Lives are being threatened. Livelihoods are being threatened. Maybe yours. Maybe those of your loved ones. Outrage is an absolutely natural and expected response.

But your rage will be used against you.

This is the method of a manipulative abuser:

  1. Use their influence to create a hostile environment.
  2. Use this environment to incite fear and anger in the target.
  3. Step back and wait for the target to lash out in self-defense.
  4. Point to the target’s reactions to increase hostility against them (victim blaming).

Sound familiar?

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know what to do. Human nature is what it is. There is no way to expect traumatized, terrorized people not to express their anger. There is no way to expect that this anger will be met with opened eyes and empathy.

Oppressed people should not have to be the ones to “calm down”. They should not. But the people with power have no motivation to let go of their power if they are not met on their terms. They have increased motivation to hang on to their power if they feel threatened in return.

I feel appalled and menaced and enraged. I want to lash out. I am determined to try not to. I am determined to feel my rage and work through it within myself, but to walk away from engaging with others until I can channel it into firmness and clarity and resolve. I don’t know what else to do.

This isn’t about understanding or compromising with people who don’t care about others’ safety. This is about reining back the pattern of escalation and retaliation, because those who suffer the most in this dangerous cycle are the ones with the least power.

In the places where I am an ally, I must not take on proxy rage and provoke a backlash against the people I am trying to defend.

In the places where I am marginalized, I must remember that my struggles make me stronger and wiser. I must remember that very few people have strong motivations to be unselfish with their power, and will take any excuse to dig in their heels. I must be the better person and take the higher road, because there is no guarantee that the other will do so.


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