Maybe we can’t go “back to civility.” But maybe this is an opportunity to move forward. A jumping-off point. After all, forward = progress, and “back” is where “they” want to go.
Two observations that might serve as the foundation of a solution:
- If the feeling of shame “is evidence that we are winning,” it’s also evidence that the shame exists. This is a really important factor in fixing the problem.
- It used to be difficult to shine a light into the shadows, but now they have emerged. Voluntarily. And they have misunderstood it as victory.
They’re here, shouting above their shame. At least for now. So, what do we do about it? What do we do to actually help them?
Could the solution actually be more shame? Comfort doesn’t lead to change.
Some questions to consider:
- What if they are smarter and more self-aware than our underestimation of them?
- What if they already know we’re winning — and that progress plays the long game?
- What if they know that the amnesty is only temporary under the “new rules”?
- What if it’s a last gasp — a death rattle of these bankrupt and amoral ideas?
And in the path to positive change:
- What if they know we’re there for them in “recovery?”
It’s hard to talk to one another now. But I’d like to think that I’d listen — and seek to understand — if there was a genuine attempt to reach out. I hope I would hold myself to that.
Two problems with my argument:
- I’ve referred over and over to “them” as if they’re different from us. Isn’t that ultimately part of the root problem? Shouldn’t we be “we” instead of standing on separate sides of the room? More hate won’t change racists, misogynists, and homophobes — only love can do that. Are we strong enough to love in the face of hate? Am I?
- Shame as a solution seems like a pill too bitter. This is why I keyed into your phrase that it’s “evidence that we are winning.” It’s compelling because it just might be working. But do we keep applying the “medicine” if it kills the patient?
I’m sure that I don’t have the answer, and the above is just the struggle of thinking out loud. But I am sure that more listening will help.