May 14, 2018

Aggression creates aggression, not justice or equality.

Above: Daryl Davis, who befriended dozens of KKK members, shows off collection of robes surrendered to him.

“Talking to anyone anywhere in 2018 is just landmine hopscotch.” ~ Tina Fey

“Just like you can’t judge a book by the cover…we all got to be careful how we treat one another.” ~ Buddy Guy, Skin Deep

Calling someone online “racist” right off the bat has a way of making a tough and helpful conversation antagonistic. Let’s dialogue, listen, learn—that stuff is hard. Yelling is easy, especially online.
Then, once you get to know ’em, if they’re racist, they’re racist. But even them calling ’em such may not help them change. All of us have blind spots. There’s a great example of this gent who talks with KKK members, and converts them:

There’s a great article in the NY Times, today, by a Republican, I believe, about how we liberals (yes, surprise, I’m liberal) would do best not to trip over ourselves on the way to the mid-term elections, and the 2020 election—you know, the one where Donald J. Trump will try to inflict another 4 years of his sh*tstorms on our democracy.

This article, by this Republican, is about how we’re so enmeshed in aggression—aggressive activism, aggressive judgement, trash talk online, soapboxing self-righteousness—that we’ve labeled half the country racist without listening or talking with them.

The definition of that sort of pre-judging is, you know, prejudice. I wrote that, not this NY Times op-ed gentleman. Don’t want to put words in his mouth.

We have a best-selling cap at Elephant, that I put together, that urges us all—all of us—Trumpians and progressives and Black Lives Matter and NRA and, mostly, those who live life without a clear political label—to Make Love Great Again. The small print reads: We’re all in this together (whether we like it, or not). Let’s disagree, agreeably. We don’t have to agree. But we do have to listen. Because society is a quilt, and we’re tearing at it, and while we’re tearing at it we think somehow we’re making things better.

Justice and equality are non-negotiable. But the way we get there, quickly, is not to build up an “enemy” in our minds and attack it. It’s to educate, as does Daryl Davis, a black Chicago man who has converted over 200 KKK members. By converted, I mean, befriended. But really, they’ve given up their robes to him, and learned that they don’t hate him or those like him.

That’s bravery. There’s nothing passive about Daryl. There’s nothing weak about love, or peace. They’re nothing weak about not pre-judging others, whether they’re KKK or an innocent African-American boy in a hoodie walking to the corner store

If enlightened society—for all Americans, for all of us in the world, for all women, for all children, for all—is something we want—if we take Peace on Earth to heart—well, we can get there. We just have to remember to breathe through our reactions, and listen, and remain open, and remember that true strength is not represented by aggression, but by brave, tender fearlessness.

~ Waylon

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Linda Vogt Turner Jun 18, 2018 5:26pm

I have been judged by the colour of my skin. I've been hated for my affluent lifestyle, just because I have more. My Grandmother was a black woman and I never even knew it. She was half white and passing. So when I tell people, people could care less. As far as they are concerned, the story ends there. My Grandmother lived a privileged life. She was not discriminated and hated because of her colour. I want to befriend people who have been picked on, bullied, and oppressed by people from white privileged or underprivileged black, coloured or religious/ethnic neighbourhoods. I want to listen and understand. I want to befriend without being pulled into a revenge cycle where people who have been hurt refuse to forgive unless the perceived wrong doers are punished or their privileges revoked. Justice and equality are non-negotiable. And yet, how people define equality and justice determines how peace is achieved. Sometimes agression is necessary or inevitable. But I do agree, agression creates agression. Thanks for posting and lifting up Daryl Davis as a man of peace and love.

Donna Marie Premdo Scippa May 15, 2018 9:12pm

The only thing I find somewhat disturbing is the part about feeling "lumped" as a liberal or lefty or whatever......I believe all of us have a responsibility to be kind and to listen. All liberals are not "fanatics"....just as all conservative people who are more to the right are not "fanatics". I think it would be more helpful to stop using labels and acknowledge that there are more extreme elements on both sides of the political debate. I also agree with Lisa that I did not grow up in an atmosphere of fearing for my life because of the color of my skin. I can't even imagine what that must feel like, but if that causes one to be extreme in their politics, then they have the right. They are not the ones who are running around on killing sprees!! People of color are the victims of violence everyday and to expect them all to just be kind is a judgement in itself. If we truly want to change the world we must do something to stop violence and look at where it is in each of us. The terrain is a lot more complex than just choosing to be kind and listen. Many of the young black men and boys who have been gunned down were probably very sweet people. Sadly, in the end it didn't make a difference.

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Carey Garcia May 14, 2018 7:21pm

I didn't think I was going to like what you had written because you started out telling us that you were a liberal. I'm not one but what I am is very open to hearing people share their point of view and I respect them all the more when they can do so without an attack. Many of my posts in social media try to keep in mind the rights of others to have different opinions then mine and I always do so with respect to the other person. I will get snarky comments in reply, from time to time, which only makes me think that person is just lost in their rage to have a good conversation with and I move on. I love a good debate on an interesting subject no matter the outcome. Its stimulating to the mind to think about the core of your opinions and to hear the core of others. Its like you said Justice and Equality are non-negotiable. I would like to suggest our culture add to that list mutual respect. Thank you for your article.

Lisa M Perez May 14, 2018 1:52pm

Waylon, I love your positivity and optimism as I am a true optimist myself. However, my Puerto Rican experience has been relatively positive because my skin-tone can "pass" for white. I can never know what it's like to not want to redeliver a UPS package or be afraid of being shot in cold blood. I don't walk in a community that fears the way I look and will shoot on sight. But I also know to stay in my lane and not speak for those for whom that struggle is very, painfully real. It is not mine, but I share in the depths of that pain because I know prejudice "light". That's why I no longer get up on the soapbox or follow the feeds. And while listening to Trump supporters and the Alt-Right folks, attempting to understand their blind spots, their oversight, their inability to reason and think things through--I had to come to the awareness that I have to count myself among them as a "blue" liberal. There is no fight. It's just Trump supporters, Alt-righters, Red and Blue, Black, white and Tan coming to the table and saying, "We all need to listen. We all are the problem. We all love this country. But we cannot just talk about it but do the deeds that make us proud to be American and not just pay lip-service or get caught in rhetoric." This land was made for you and me.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.