It’s not enough to be the light

I take a deep interest in how to fight off abusive, predatory behavior. I have read a lot and I am aware that society’s current ideas on abuse are wildly errant, creating a system where most accept a certain slavery mindset. I’ll give an example. It’s common to hear “hurt people hurt.” This phrase is so generic as to mean a multiple number of things. But usually it’s said to mean that someone who is no kidding abusing someone is just hurting on the inside. What they need is “love” not punishment. And, so, we, the peaceful, respectable people of society are signed up to put our emotional investment into not victims but abusers. We don’t defend ourselves. We are lectured we don’t need to be “fighters” but “lovers.” This is codependency defined: signing yourself or others up to serve someone you don’t want to serve, for fear of any of the negative emotions it might otherwise bring.

But how do you change this? How do you uproot society’s deepest held moral beliefs as to drive change? When by near definition you yourself will be seen as immoral as you do it. Just try confronting an abuser and call them out on their abusive tactics. Watch how they turn it all around on you. And watch while people on the sidelines declare, “You’re BOTH wrong.” We suck at handling abuse.

One of the proposed methods to fight this is to just “be the light.” Just shine like your shiny self and set the example. While I think there is value in this, it’s not enough. You see, I’ve done this. In fact, it’s what drove nearly all of my successful parenting activism. I went to a playground one day and watched a very young boy be abused by his caregivers. I won’t even describe what happened, because I find most people cannot see abuse when it’s right in front of their face. The boys was in terrible emotional pain; I’ll say that. I couldn’t do anything about it that day. I didn’t know the boy and I was afraid the caregivers would take it out on him later. I went home that day and decided to do intense parenting activism. If I could educate people, I thought, more people would be empowered, more people would set the example, and we could light up the world.

Well, I did this. It’s been over 6 years since that day. I have hundreds if not thousands of notes of how much I’ve inspired people. I’m glad for that. I hope I’ve made some small dent. I give very prolific descriptions of child development to people, thus helping them understand their child better. I *do* the empowerment through education thing. I’ve been there. I’ve done it. I think most think others are “wise” simply because they are asking them to do something they know they’ll never do. They feel guilty, give up, and just give deference to the sage. But, you see, I’ve been there.

Honestly I’ve been sent into despair more times than I care to admit. I am “lighting up the world” and while I get many positive notes, I get several negative ones, as well. I get exceedingly snarky comments or comments that I haven’t done enough or people who take to the review process to complain about something small after using my work for free for years. I take a lot of this negativity and use it as feedback to update myself. However, some of it absolutely crosses a line as to make me think this negativity is more than just the flow of life but something much darker. Worst of all, for me, was that so many of my users supported the idea that I should be locked in my house to “save lives.” All this work I do for people for free who would, without really knowing it, proudly, de facto harm me, my life, my money, my children, and my health. All it took was one little fear and humanity was willing to be at each other’s throats. No, being the light is not enough.

There is a predatory force out there and it needs dealt with. It hides, in the shadows, in places where people don’t understand how something works. It works through people’s sense of shame, fear, and doubt. It insists you don’t identify it. It turns heroes into villains and villains into heroes. It can take everything a person built up, over years, educating, healing, empowering, and destroy it with one lit match.

Something needs to happen. Being the light is not enough.

Amber does extensive research on human nature and challenges all moral paradigms, including Objectivism. She thinks your every silence speak, too. The book will be The Moral Bias of Objectivism: How Moral Ideals Cloud Objectivity.

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