You can’t fix yourself by breaking someone else.
As of late, I have been looking over several social situations, some that hit close to home and some that are just general issues that affect me indirectly. This got me wondering why I have stepped away from the activism front. I mean, when I started Being Caballero, part of me wanted to give men the tools to better themselves, but another part wished to help make this a better world in general. This second half made me question how I could do it without being in the front line of the debate. That’s when I look at the front-liners and understand why I stepped away.
Most people don’t want to change the world to a better place. Their intentions aren’t to fix a problem, nor is it to produce solutions, but rather to wallow in the fact that the issue exists. These can be broken down into two distinct groups, the Wounded and the Patch-Sellers. The sad part is that neither group wants to fix the problem they fight against. They just want to see the other person messed up.
The Wounded just want others to feel as hurt as they do, where retribution becomes an all-consuming goal. This want is forged by a need for others to understand their pain, a thirst for vengeance, or simply a disdain for anyone not suffering as well. They view life as unjust, as they can’t accept anyone having happiness or success if they don’t have it as well. All too often we find ourselves “helping” these people by becoming their weapons of “justice” or punishing ourselves; either are done usually out of a sense of guilt. The reality is this first group deserves sympathy, understanding, and support. They need our help and our empathy, but remember that neither is achieved by attacking someone else or torturing ourselves.
The Patch-Sellers, on the other hand, are simply looking for an excuse to manifest behavior that otherwise would be frowned upon through the use of manufactured rage and theatrical disgust. Their weapons are thing that are usually viewed under a negative light, such as aggression, oppression, abuse, and shaming yet society tends to find these actions acceptable and are even applaud them when done for “the right reasons” to help the “right people.” All too often, the Patch-Sellers will use the Wounded as pawns and shields to avoid reprisal from others, as the Patch-Sellers reap the benefit of a constant conflict as they promote an “eye for an eye” mentality. There is a reality that comes from the “an eye for an eye” ideology; the man selling the eye patches gets rich. Usually the Patch-Seller have set up shop long before the conflict became popular.
Before you get guilted into action, consider what the problem is and what's the solution you want to achieve. If you just want to take action for action’s sake, to feel like you are doing something, you will probably just complicate the problem even further and often end up hurting innocent people along the way. Stop and consider if you are even being used to promote someone’s interests and agenda. There is the real possibility that you are being used as your idea of righteousness and honor actually makes you somewhat predicable.
If you are ever in doubt over what you should do, just consider that helping someone never involves hurting someone else. You can’t fix one person by breaking another.