Sometimes when people are in pain they do hateful, awful things; they say hateful, awful things; they incite others, total strangers, to do hateful, awful things.
Human beings have always been this way and sadly this reality will never change.
Social media gives people the ability to have more reach to scream their vitriol, to incite others, strangers to them as well, to join in the lynch mob they’re trying to form, and appropriately the type of behavior exhibited by those who follow this vitriol even has a name:
The problem is, when your entire purpose is to help someone, to help a community, the hateful, awful things detract from the message, and force those who are just trying to be of service, to deal with the distractions instead.
The circumstances of my life have made me a student of the human condition. What does that mean? It means I’m an observer, an analyst. In most situations I am taking in a lot of information including small physical queues and what is said including the facial expressions, body language, the environment, the balance of power, the perception of the balance of power, etc., and from that data I can determine what isn’t being said.
It’s the student in me that was drawn to one of my all-time favorite books, Jose Saramago’s Blindness. Some will read it and think, this is a really horrible book, but it won the Nobel prize for literature for a reason.
It’s a treatise on the fact that mankind is nothing more than an animal. Within the pages of this eye-opening book, what you see is that when you strip away the niceties of civilization, the titles, the status symbols, all possessions, we as our core selves are revealed in all of our animalistic glory.
Whatever our true nature is, when all else is stripped away, there is nothing by which we can hide who we really are. Further, when people follow their basest instincts, no one is immune from having to embrace some level of darkness to survive.
It is a hard book to read because the degradation to which every character falls is difficult to take in, and that degradation takes many forms, including rape and murder. I think it is important to note though that the murder is a means of survival because it is necessary to protect others from rape, but that is what I mean by no one is immune from some level of darkness.
In this world where all were stripped of everything, one person had managed to hold onto a tool that in this dystopian world automatically placed them at the top of the food chain, and they were more than happy to abuse their power.
In the words of John Dalberg-Acton, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” but I’m going to alter his words into this:
The idea of power in absolute ‘right-ness’ corrupts absolutely.
We all see abuses of power in all circumstances of life, from work to church to the daycare group of moms and in some cases our own family dynamics. Small people with the idea that they have some semblance of power will always abuse it, especially when they see themselves as being the only one who is right, whatever that means within their own minds; and of course small people with a personal sense of worthlessness will always seek to dominate others to assure themselves of their own greatness.
So why point this out? Why discuss this book?
Because the construct of social media, for all of it’s pretense, strips away the concept of civilization, and reveals people for who they truly are.
It cannot be avoided. In this day and age, social media is here, and short of the zombie apocalypse, in some form or other, it always will be.
Ok, so the book is explained, but why bring this up?
To be a parent advocate is to be vulnerable. In the need and desire to protect our children from a system that can be so cruel, in an environment where the lack of understanding is like sending your child onto the field of battle with a bulls-eye over their hearts, guts the parent. The result is the parent is raw, exposed, helpless to defend their child, and, to find support, the parent enters the social media fray, and it is in that fray that usually we find our people, but too often we also find cruelty.
Growing up is hard. Being a parent is hard. Being a parent to a child who is super smart, but struggles with reading, is hard. Being an advocate for that child, using your voice, your knowledge, your determination to fight for FAPE, goals, progress, grade level expectations, is hard; so why, in our own community, would anyone willingly seek to inflict pain?
Only each person knows their truth, and while social media gives people a misguided right to think they can live the other person’s life for them, that isn’t true. We each only know our own journey, our own circumstances, our own selves, children, family, school, courage, fears, conflicts, etc. and we do not have to justify that to anyone. It’s no one’s business, and it’s no one’s place to judge. Each person is doing the best they can, and they should never have to explain that.
In our community we need to be kind, understanding, supportive and helpful. We need to be building each other up and paying that emotional boon forward to others. Yes, Rick Lavoie’s words come to mind about the 12 stages (https://www.thedyslexiainitiative.org/post/the-12-stages), and while grappling with the hardest of those stages, kindness may be hard, but it is not impossible, and must always be the goal.
Agreements need to be met with civility, as does an inability to get along. Just shake hands and move on. Don’t add negativity into an already difficult or negative situation, instead choose grace and kindness.
And in the advocacy community, we need unity, not discord.
No, this isn’t always easy, but at the end of the day, I want to be The Dog of Tears, the one who comes out of nowhere, providing comfort to the only one who can still see in a blind and brutal world.
Read the book, you’ll see what I mean.