I punch up.
I shouldn’t be punching at all, but I go back to a great-uncle’s advice, that he got from his uncle. Unc’s unc was a conscientious objector in WWI; there weren’t a lot of protections for religious objectors in those days.
Unc’s unc spent the war in federal prison.
Lots of Quakers just went to war or managed to get assigned to medic units. That’s the nature of being a pacifist in a war economy.
When WWII came round, my g’unc was in college, working towards being a doc. He could sign up for medic duty & got relative CO status. Not required to carry a gun or complete gun training. Not all Peace Churchers (Amish, Mennonite, Quaker, Christadelphian) had that privilege.
Many went to prison. Many went to be experimental subjects, to be starved and almost drowned in service. Many just... acquiesced and begged God for forgiveness.
(Much PTSD in those. Because they felt their sin as two distinct breaches from the Light.)
My unc knew he enabled the war machine. He also thought it was worth putting his life on the line, because he was a pre-mature antifascist, who had read widely enough to realize that this 1930s Europe thing was going badly.
He told me when I started my own activism that our job, as exemplars of peace, is to defend those being harmed by power. Our job is to be the shield. To put ourselves in the way.
But he also steered me around a certain aspect of human personality. (He was talking specifically about some of our shared (not Quaker) relatives, but widely applicable...) He told me that some people cannot abide kindness. That they turn it into a weapon.
Some people choose to see kindness as weakness & exploit any generosity or peace. When we encounter this, we need to be aggressive with our shielding. We give them 1 chance, then we meet them with equal defense.
After all, they CHOOSE to punch the shield. They can stop.
Let’s be clear: holding a shield hurts. It takes strength and resilience. When someone strikes the shield, the force of the blow travels through your arm & joints. Hold a shield for a couple hours? You HURT the next day.
Do it long enough, your joints take permanent damage. We wear blisters in our skin; if the force is too great, the shield can hurt us by backlash.
But it’s worth it.
And the metaphor of shielding a more vulnerable person by interposing oneself verbally or in writing between the vulnerable & the attacker also comes with pain. Because nice people don’t like to see attacks or defense.
Nobody (except those few who can’t abide kindness) wants to see a battle, be it street-fight or war of words or a public spat or Damascus under siege. It’s unpleasant. We should all get along. We shouldn’t stoop to their level.
The problem? When we aim high? They’re belly-crawling through high grass to cut our Achilles’ tendon, then slashing our femoral arteries. Because they DO NOT FOLLOW THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT.
Fuck nice. Be kind & tough.
My uncle didn’t teach me to be an ally. He taught me to be an accomplice. To share willingly in what we, as a group, drew. He said I was graced by the Light with education & health & wealth & the invisibility of a spy in the master’s household.
Privilege, in other words. And I should use it. I am the shield.
So yes, I punch up.
So should every urban, blue state white woman with education & wealth & security. Because we’re not the ones losing our children at the border. We’re not being shot in our backyards. We’re not malnourished on EBT or denied healthcare. The day comes when our privilege evaporates.
We can’t be nice to those who harm others. If their soft spot is their looks, their money, their greed? Savage it. Make it personal & make them punch the shield by mocking their soft spot.
If they’re punching the shield, they’re not punching someone they’ve already wounded.
But the wounded person hears your taunts and they’re the same taunts the aggressor was using on them.
Yeah, I know. Nobody said defense was easy. The compromise is on my conscience. We’re not talking about or to the wounded person. We’re talking about & to the aggressor.
What I wonder is how those nice, privileged people sleep while doing nothing? Yeah, their hands are clean. They didn’t stoop.
But their shoes are soaked by the river of blood at their feet.
I’ve got a PTSD study in need of crowd funding since the government won’t. We can start there.
(Not LITERALLY. I don’t even wanna try to figure out how to responsibly crowdfund human research outside of a foundation/institution. But there are foundations & Unis & so much else that needs money & time & hands. Pick something — anything — & give it 2 hours of your concentration/week.)
Part II tomorrow. (Original thread: 22 JUL 2018 Twitter)