I'm a big proponent of civility, kindness, courtesy, and compassion.
Big time. Big league. Bigly.
Still, sometimes, civility is ineffective at propelling change or resisting evil. All of the civility in the world will do nothing to change the nature of the demagogue, sway the emotions of their impassioned followers, or stop the tides of facism.
The freedom to 'tell it like it is' is part of the appeal to those looking for permission to unleash the darkest side of their natures. Once they feel free to be hateful, they will do so without compunction. It's becoming rampant.
They really don't care. No, really.
Yet, somehow, those who reject this messaging are being held to a higher standard. This is nothing new. When they go low, we better go high or they'll make sure to call us out for our 'bad behavior.'
Words can be weapons. We can repel them. We can opt in or out of responding. Just because millions are mesmerized, does not afford the words merit. Still, words have power. Power to influence, power to incite, power to transform friends into enemies and neighbors into threats.
When the words and the ideals behind them lead to unconscionable actions, we cannot ignore them. There comes a time when we have to confront evil, and that might get ugly.
Be best? Be better. Be humane. Be human.
Civility is earned, and sometimes when decency is under siege, civility takes a holiday.
When our elected officials and their representatives launch attacks on truth and decency, we can't combat that with pretty words. When our Supreme Court ignores the constitution and runs roughshod over liberty, we have a right to fight back. When the government twists and bends the law to oppress, we can't deflect that with flowery speeches. When children are torn from their families and shoved into cages, we can't just sit around writing thoughtful social media posts.
All of the pleas for politeness are pointless when faced with an unrelenting assault on everything we hold dear. Passionate passive resistance has its place, but so do anger, disgust, and civil disobedience. Asking people to be polite when their rights are threatened, when every day brings a fresh threat to decency, when lies are being spewed by talking heads who insult every citizen with their shameless behavior is absurd.
We're all being bullied. This is what bullies do, taunt their victims mercilessly and then when they finally get a rise out of them, use it to destroy them. It's what demagogues do. It's what dictators do. It's what assholes do. It's what narcissists do. It is being done to us on a daily basis and it is driving us slowly insane.
That is the plan. There is no appropriate response, because this is an inappropriate situation. We can't ignore it, because the policies being created by elected officials and upheld by Supreme Court Justices have real effects on all of us. Some of them devastating, life threatening, and cruel. Divide, distract, deflect, deny. Create a constant state of chaos to create chaotic reactions, use those reactions as an excuse to control the uncontrollable masses.
Do and say the worst possible things until you drive your enemies to do the same, then switch gears and take the high moral ground. It's masterful manipulation. We are all being gaslighted.
It's not my place to tell other people how to act or react. I'm living in a bubble of privilege, at least for now. I cannot deny that. I have a unique responsibility to speak up and speak out, to reject the comfort of my privilege and do what I can to support those who are not equally protected. The founding fathers suggested a revolution every now and again to prevent tyranny. If ever there was a time for such a thing, the time may soon be upon us. This goes beyond civility, it's about survival, it's about justice, it's about fighting for the rights of every single citizen to be treated equally. It's about those who have the most to lose being willing to fight for the least among us. Sometimes we have to stand up and speak out and even take a stand for what we believe and that means the shit may get real, the discourse my coarsen, and the fucks may fly freely.
So be it.