How A Young South African Racist Used Facebook To Further His Hatred

A couple of days ago I received an email with a horrifying attachment from a writer I met at a script writing workshop last year.  He asked me to share it with as many people as possible.  The attachment was a Facebook status from a young white South African guy ranting and raving about black South Africans.

The content is really obnoxious and vile and made me sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t see an ounce of humanity in what this angry young man said.  He mentioned the KKK admiringly.  That organization has always epitomized absolute evil for me.  I can’t think of it without feeling violent rage.  My thoughts about people who were or are members are not civilized.  I want them to suffer.

And that was my first reaction to the Facebook status post.  The writer who sent it to me encouraged me to help make it viral.  My primary instinct was to share it instantly, and to write a post here about it, to expose this guy and the disgusting level to which he has sunk.  Or possibly never risen from, which is more likely, given his age.

But I just can’t do it.  I don’t want to spread that evil any further than it has already gone.  I don’t want to be responsible for one more person reading it.  But also, my initial response came from anger, and although it was and still is justified, I’m not sure I should make it the basis for my actions.  When somebody declares war, does it help to throw missiles at them?

The thing is, making that guy’s post viral just gives him an audience.  And you can bet there are plenty of people of his ilk around the world with the same attitude, the same repressed anger, the same narrowness of mind, the same evil intent.  It’s one of the things about the power of social media that scares me.  Evil can spread like wildfire now.

“Don’t stroke what you don’t want more of” seems like pretty potent wisdom to me, when it comes to this incident.  I don’t want to see more racism, I don’t want to see more words that foster it.  But also, I don’t want to do nothing.   I could write to CNN and Carte Blanche (a South African investigative TV program) and send them the guy’s photo and his Facebook post.   But won’t that just give him what he wants?

Humiliate a bully or a person with latent psychopathic tendencies and you could just turn him into a monster with real power.  Whatever I do, I want to make sure that it helps to make the world a better place, not a worse one.  I want to see more love and respect, not less.

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Sometimes Chocolate Works

I’m a co-creator in my life.  My part is to be as present as I can and as accountable as possible for my actions.  A friend of mine once said “all we have to do is show up at the door.  The rest isn’t up to us.”  Easier said than done.

Everything has a price.  It’s always a trade off between what has to be paid and what can be gained, and whether that gain is just for physical survival or for integrity of the heart and soul.  The belief that one has to be sacrificed for the other is very powerful in western culture.  I’ll stick to my belief that whilst it’s a challenge to have a really good balance, it is possible.

This moment is all I really have.  A moment that holds wild dreams and powerful aspirations as well as the reality of what I’m capable of achieving right now.  So long as I allow the former to live and breathe and accept the truth of the latter it will develop to the point where my dreams can actually materialize.

Vulnerability isn’t shameful.  It doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  It means you need love.

Barack Obama said once that without compromise nothing would ever be achieved, and the American Constitution wouldn’t exist.  He added, though, that everybody has the right to draw their line in the sand.

When somebody walks away from a relationship, it could be because they’re selfish and thoughtless.  But it’s just as possible they left for a real reason.  It’s easy to blame the person who leaves.  Not so easy to examine your own behavior to see if you chased them away.

I like people who can say “If I’ve hurt you, I’m sorry, and if you want to talk about it I want to listen.”

People who are afraid of their own feelings and don’t know what to do with them will be terrified of yours, and will pressurize you not to feel, but to be sensible and rational.  What they don’t realize is that if only they could let you be and give you love and understanding, you would automatically get to that point of being sensible and rational.

When we overvalue money life will give us an opportunity to reassess our values.  It will do it gently at first, but if we can’t listen, the opportunities will get increasingly painful until we can’t avoid them any more.

Humans are notoriously bad at listening to their own needs, and placing any value on them.  This has been turned somehow into a saintly virtue.

If I’m judging somebody else without making the effort to know their side of the story, chances are I’m avoiding uncomfortable truths within myself.  Easier to judge you than to face me.  We should be careful with our judgments because they are lethal weapons that can do a lot of damage, especially if we spread them around so other people believe them too.  The saying “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can do no harm” is bollocks.

Sometimes chocolate works.

Judgment and Blame vs Love and Respect

When I was a child my father used to say three things over and over: “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”, “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” and “there but for the grace of God go I”.

I could see the sense in it, but it got all confused with the Catholic message of “don’t sin otherwise you’ll go to hell” in my head, so I had some untangling to do.  I had to learn how to face my emotions, let my feel and express.  I also had to learn that part of that process can be to go through a period of blame and judgment.

I don’t know if it’s natural and human or if it’s just part of our culture, but everybody seems to do it.  For me it was a way to break through the shame that I felt for just existing.  It was a relief to reach a point of saying “hey!  It’s not my fault”.  It was a huge relief to let my anger out.

But I can see now how, in my blame, I wrote stories that weren’t true, I made monsters out of people who were just the same as me, doing their best, struggling to live up to impossible standards.  Blame felt so good, but actually it was pretty ugly.

I’ve started seeing how I have been using it to form a shield to hide behind, so I don’t have to feel my vulnerability and be confronted with questions that didn’t have any answers.  The all-consuming one was How could you do this to me if you loved me?  It still often is, for me, but blame isn’t working any more, and I don’t really know why.

Maybe it’s because the first thing my Dad said – do unto others etc. – has always really resonated with me.  I know how terrified I am of being judged.  It crucifies you.  I know that I want love and respect.  And maybe also it’s because I’m just beginning to face how when I’m asking that question I’m hurting so bad that it’s almost unbearable.

Blame anaesthetizes the hurt for a while, but it wears off.  It doesn’t touch my heart and really heal me and it can positively hurt somebody else.  My own self esteem and entitlement are lousy so I trash somebody else’s?  How can that be good?  Anyway, I’m sick of anesthetics, sick of how they don’t work.  I’ve more or less broken down the morality thing about those things my father said, so that’s a good thing.  Morality is just another kind of judgment.

It’s not about sin and morality.  It doesn’t make me a bad person if I hang out in judgment and blame, and throw stones at people.  It just means my focus will always be on the other person.   I’ll never be able to resolve those things in me that are crying out for resolution.

Well, the theory is easy, it’s all nice and black and white.  The reality is much more messy.  In my efforts to move away from judgment and blame I don’t want to lose sight of my right to my feelings whatever they are.  And I want to try to remember to make it about me.  That reminds me of something else my Dad said: mind your own business.