How Exactly Do We Move Forward From Here?

Wow, everybody! It has been a week!! Events have transpired! I’m angry, I’m scared, I’m depressed. I’ve spent the past few days rotating between thinking I should move to Canada (once they let us in) and join the CIA. I got a little bit of perspective this weekend and I’d like to share my thoughts.

You can only control yourself. It’s a tough lesson, but it’s true. I spent years working with adults with intellectual disabilities. I could not control my clients behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, I wrote behavioral plans for a living. So, while I gave them the tools they needed to succeed, I could not make those changes happen. I could only control how what I did and how I felt. Without violating HIPAA, some examples. I spent 10 minutes arguing with a client because I wanted him to do something now and he wanted to do it in 10 minutes. So once it hit the time he wanted we stopped arguing. I learned that I could not make clients stop stealing from other clients (insert beautifully written tangent about the horrors of institutionalization and how those behaviors still linger decades later). I could make sure their awesome cross-disciplinary behavioral plan was followed as best I could, which, decreased that behavior.

This is a long way to say, there are things I want to happen now, but there’s little I can do to make it happen. I want the government to spend an absurd amount of money and time catching every single person who went into the Capitol Building. I want every single one charged with a felony. Anyone who took anything, or broke anything charged with some serious crimes along the lines of terroism and insurrection. I want the RNC to theaten every single elected Republican that if they do not release a statement that there was no wide spread fraud in the 2020 election they will not receive funding. I want Trump Impeached, again, or the 25th Ammendment invoked.

I can’t make any of those things happen. I can, and should, sign petitions. I can not vote for extreme candidates. I can donate to candidates who oppose extreme candidates. I can donate to causes that fight white supremacy. I can donate to causes that fight domestic terrorism.

I can also work to stop the spread of false information online. I can make sure that every article I share or comment on is something I’ve actually read and from a source I believe to be true. I can’t think that just because my friend shared it that it must be fact. Even if I trust this friend. They may not have read it either.

I can not spread misleading headlines, even if the article is factual. Now, we’re all getting really into some weird stuff during the pandemic. I’m choosing Star Wars (as opposed to political conspiracies). So I see an article that has the headline along the lines of “Kathleen Kennedy Says Mandalorian is Lucky to Get a Second Season”. So you know, Kathleen Kennedy is the new head of Star Wars and some people do not like her, but they love the Mandalorian (so do I, I’m wearing a sweatshirt right now with Grogu, aka Baby Yoda on it as I type this). I read the article, and she says the Mandalorian is lucky to get a second season shot before the pandemic, so season 2 could air as scheduled. Now that’s obviously a lot different than the headline. Reading the comments, more than 50% we’re people being like “God I hate Kathleen Kennedy, Mando is the best thing to happen to Star Wars and she’s an idiot for trying to kill it.” So, here are all these people getting worked up over a misleading headline. Now this is a relatively benign example, but imagine if this was politically related information. People could get so worked up they might like storm Congress or something.

Now, I can’t make journalists write responsible headlines, but I can not share articles like this (Star Wars, political, Covid, and other non Star Wars related topics). When I see articles like this, instead of believing it, I can investigate it myself. I can read the article, and do some research, especially if I am not familiar with the website it was posted on. Make American Google Again (MAGA, too soon?, not soon enough?).

I can not aruge with people on the interent. I’ve never seen anyone change their mind based on a fight in the comments. Have you? I can post articles, from respected news sources. I can share my opinions (clearly labeled as such) and hope that people may change their minds based on that. But arguing just makes people angry and anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering (this is a Yoda quote, again I’m really leaning into Star Wars in 2021). If someone you know on the internet makes you so angry you want to verbally spar with them either unfriend or unfollow them. Not just if they piss you off politically. But that girl you maybe had English with who wants you to join her pyramid scheme business, unfriend her. That guy from junior high who is a cancer truther, unfriend him. It improves yoru internet experience.

I can condemn whenever protests turn violent, even if I agree with the general stance of the protesters. Violence is not the right answer. It’s not helping the protesters point and it never will.

If we all actually did these things we might be able to get some of this extremism under control. It wouldn’t fix everything, I’m not that naieve, but it sure would help.

Until next time. Take care of yourself and make good choices. Even though I can’t actually make you do that.

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