seahorse

Diplomacy, the Smarter Alternative

"All of my work is directed at those who are bent, through stupidity or design, on blowing up the planet or rendering it uninhabitable."
--William Burroughs

The internet has fallen on a friend of mine. Hey, it's Friday. The statisical likelihood of it dropping on someone I know is actually pretty damned high on any given day of the week. In this case, I feel she handled the situation in one of the best ways. Her apology was well written--particularly when one considers the circumstances, and she's opting to withdraw from social media for a while. That's wise. I've a great deal of admiration for Sarah and the work she does. She's brave as hell, and the work she does is important. There are certain forms of writing that I view as social surgery. Surgery is a vital aspect of healing. Sometimes, shit has to be cut out because it's killing the patient. And that's how I view certain forms of activism. When people write about volitile subjects in a thoughtful way (or in this case, provide a venue for thoughtful discourse) it is a necessary, even vital thing. Without it, change will not take place. Justified rage is necessary too. It is. One has to process emotions in order to get past them. However, at some point there also needs to be reasoned discourse. Otherwise, we stick in the rage phase of healing. Not only does healing not happen, but re-injury occurs. At the same time--particularly in the case of social change, this is not only a healing process but a learning process. We're all human beings. We're all flawed. And human beings learn best through trial and error. I've said it before and I'll say it again: mistakes bring experience. Experience brings wisdom. Value mistakes. Education isn't cheap. So, don't let those mistakes go to waste. All of these things are true. So is the need to be careful of silencing those who are on the front lines of social healing. Thus, "Be more polite!" and "Honey will attract more bees than vinegar!" are not appropriate responses.[1]

If you get the impression that healing is a complex process, you'd be right.

And that's why I'm so often reminded that diplomacy is for the highly intelligent. It's also something that SF/F doesn't seem to value much. I find that surprising. All the real work of change is done in diplomacy. War actually causes more problems than it solves. I think the SF/F community forgets that--or may never have known it in some cases. Our genre does rather unfortunately tend to portray revenge, war, and conflict as the 100% correct response a majority of the time. As a genre writer, I get why. Good vs Evil is a hell of a lot easier than puzzling over all the permutations of ethical grey areas. At the same time, I believe that fiction is where thinkers are trained. We need more thoughtful discourse on these subjects, not less. It takes practice. Perfection is not a standard that should be expected. Period. Seriously, no one is capable of doing that type of work without practice. It's absolutely necessary.

And that's why I hope Sarah doesn't shut down her column forever.
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[1] Specifically, it is not appropriate when responding to those for whom the subject is directly applicable. If it is not, then yes, by all means remind them that screaming doesn't help. Because fuck that. I've no patience for people who dogpile on people for the sake of internet theater. Again, fuck that. Sometimes the internet pillory is necessary. For example, BlackTwitter. Hello, people are dying. In any instance when lives are threatened (trans women for another example) screaming is appropriate. Do not silence that. Just don't.
you're welcome. i felt it was necessary. i have a lot of sympathy for sarah since i feel i've long been working in a similar situation--that is, talking about risky subjects. there is no perfect way of doing it. at some point, you're going to make an error. someone *will* call you to task for it. but if you stop the work, then the system of oppression wins. i, for one, don't want that.
reasoned discourse
Without that, there can be no discourse, no interaction, no sharing or exchange of ideas.

I hope your friend Sarah heals, in her own time, to become strong enough to deal with the haters out there. I'm glad she has friends like you to support her.
Re: reasoned discourse
she has a lot of support, thank goodness. still, having dealt with trolls and being dogpiled...it's not an easy thing to go through. i just hope she comes out the other side with more trust in herself.