Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Victim-blaming and "Fear drives hate"

I loathe the phrase "Fear drives hate."

Fear is a normal human emotion. There is nothing wrong with being afraid.

Fear is a completely appropriate response to oppression and to danger. And since most oppressed people spend an awful lot of our lives afraid, and coping with danger from the dominant majority and society, "Fear leads to hate" sounds, and has always sounded, victim-blaming to me.

Telling people basically to suppress their feelings, or that their feelings are "wrong," does not help. I'd say, based on my personal and professional experience over the decades, that stifling feelings is a *lot* more likely to result in people acting into them without thinking about it.

What's more, telling people to stifle their fear sounds a lot like grooming to me. Yes, grooming, as in for abuse. "Don't listen to yourself; you'll just hate people" teaches people not to trust themselves and to ignore danger, and that makes abuse and oppression easier for those in positions of power-over. Saying "Fear leads to hate" in an era when we're supposedly teaching children, and adults who are targets, to listen to their discomfort for the cues it gives us about power-over, is *gaslighting* -- and that is in and of itself a form of oppression and abuse.

Damned right, I'm afraid. I have lived with the experience of violence, and the threat of violence, targeted at me for who I am, my entire fucking life. That violence is part of the edge-of-awareness, subconscious, calculations I make every time I answer the door or leave the house. I have lived with the effects of that violence my entire fucking life; I live with them every day. I am alive right now, and in the current political climate, damned right, I'm afraid, for myself, and for my siblings.

And yeah, that fear leads to anger.

But there's nothing wrong with anger, either. Anger is a normal human emotion. It's a signal.

Anger is a completely appropriate response to oppression and injustice. And yeah, oppressed people can spend an awful lot of our lives angry, coping with injustice from the dominant majority and in society -- so again, "Fear leads to hate" sounds, and has always sounded, victim-blaming to me.

And damned right I'm angry.

Anger can be born of love. I wouldn't be angry if I didn't love justice. If I didn't love my siblings. If I didn't perceive and love That-Which-Is-Sacred in other people and in this Earth.

Also, I can hate what other people do and still love That-Which-Is-Sacred in them. I can still recognize their humanity and their sacredness. *That* is what helps us retain our commitment to non-violence. Our experience -- and the research -- are really clear on this.

It's dehumanization, not fear, that leads to violence.

Fear, anger, and love are fuel for the fight for justice.

And without justice, there can be no peace.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Winter Solstice and A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual on The VUU!

On Winter Solstice -- at the moment of the Solstice, too! -- I had the pleasure and privilege of spending an hour in the on-line living room of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Larger Fellowship, as a guest on The VUU. It was a lovely experience -- gift after gift during that hour.

Many thanks to everyone involved for our lovely conversation and experiential celebration of the Solstice, and especially to Lori Stone Sirtosky and Rina Jurceka, for much more than I can put into words in this space.

And just a reminder -- you don't have to have a group to do A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual.  You can do it by yourself in your living room, or with a small group of friends, or with 20 people in a friend's living room.   

Blessed Solstice and Happy 2018!


Watch the video on YouTube:

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Listen to the podcast/audio:

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More on A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual:

A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual on Facebook:

Erica Baron's wonderful Yule story, which she read on the program: