Going Rogue: When Passionate Causes Turn into Cultures of Hate

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Look, maybe it’s just me, but I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with supporters or detractors of a cause who go rogue. Their actions and behaviors can easily slip from passionate to extreme or vulgar. I’ll be honest; as I became more passionate about the injustice of sexual assault in my community, I started feeling incredibly upset. I started wondering, “Why doesn’t everyone else care? How can they hear about the physical pain, the mental anguish, the effects of crippling fear, the lack of access to justice, and not do something about it immediately?” And, yes, it made me mad, it made me all-at-once frustrated and disappointed. I realize that while I can try to encourage some people to care, I had to remind myself that many of them just won’t.

Now, that sounds like a harsh and sobering statement but it’s the truth. I also realize that simply because others have different priorities in life, it doesn’t mean they can’t still play a role in fighting the injustices of hate crimes – yes, sexual assault is a hate crime – and it certainly doesn’t mean that they are “bad” people. Indeed, instead of getting angry at all these people, I should continue to work on lending my voice and skills in my own way to win the hearts and minds of as many people as I can to join in the effort. Ultimately, inclusion will be far more effective than anger.

“Hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy”.  – Liu Xiaobo

Alot of activism – whether related to human rights, injustices, or any social crime – can turn off the general public when it becomes extreme or even vulgar. It becomes a battle of morals and can even lead to looking down upon those who don’t participate, who don’t seem to care about the issue, who don’t come to events/participate in your activities, etc. People start thinking they are “better” simply because they care more. Passionate caring morphs into brow beating which morphs into hate speech. Over the last few weeks, many aspersions have been cast, many labels have been applied and supporters and detractors alike have been outright vilified – to what end? When a culture of hate infiltrates a group of passionate people, the message behind the cause gets lost and diluted. Lines are drawn, characters are attacked and the community fragments. The odds rarely favor armies of one.

The quest for justice is won through the passion and dedication of those who believe that failure is never an option and that faith will carry the day. As the numbers of supporters grow, in leaps and bounds, tempering and keeping the passion of the team focused can be challenging because everyone has their own unique definition of fighting the good fight.  It’s because of this that leaders must emerge that model the best practices and behaviors that winning teams demonstrate. Both verbal and non-verbal communication is important in keeping solidarity alive because the mission is more important than over-zealous rallying and feeding a culture of hate. As I mentioned earlier, sexual assault is a hate crime. And if those who believe that the good fight is in bringing perpetrators to justice and breaking the cycle of abuse – rogue acts of hate will only serve to debase the importance of the mission and its goals.

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” ― Buddha

Anger and bitterness only consumes the vessel that contains it.  And to permit bitterness to control or to infect our lives in any way whatsoever would be to allow those who violate the victims to take even more than they’ve already taken.  That would make us accomplices to their crimes. The message and the mission cannot be casualties on the field of battle for justice.

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