Passion is a good thing. Flogging someone to death (virtually)
online probably isnt. Nelly Thomas wishes for a gentler
For those of you who are politically inclined (Im looking at you
New Matilda readers) passions run deep. Most of us actually do
sincerely care about the issues we fight and agitate about, and for
many of us, the issues are personal.
This is both an asset and strength.
If you dont care about an issue, whats the point thats just ego
or grandstanding (and yes, we all know people for whom this is
If you do care, youre likely easily triggered by the issues and
passionate discussion can quickly lead to no discussion at all.
I had one of those experiences recently on Facebook where I was
accused of a prejudice I dont believe I hold. Nothing unusual there
Ive only been on Facebook for about a month but Ive been in public
life for 15 years and know its par for the course to be
misunderstood and/or misrepresented.
And I can tell this is even more likely on Facebook where tone
and nuance are lost and where theres no conch to pass to piggy. No
benefit of the doubt is given and theres little room for good
intentions or mistakes. But nonetheless, it made me think.
The world feels like it has gone mad.
I know every generation has said that, and Ive always
thought there were mostly wack-a-doodles running the joint, but at
the moment I feel genuinely scared. We are facing deep and serious
problems and the debate seems to be getting ever more
Lots of people are talking, not many seem to be listening.
And when I say listening, I mean being fully
present with two ears open and one mouth closed. When I think of
this particular moment in history, I think of children shouting
into the wind.
A few things for us, as activists, to consider. One is that
being an activist is bloody tiring. Theres the necessary thinking,
reading, volunteer work and the like, but theres also the energy it
takes to live your principles day-to-day and, to remain civil in
the face of what can feel like incomprehensible stupidity.
It also absolutely necessary.
Yes, theres a time and place for fighting extraordinary times
call for extraordinary measures, but this must be the last resort.
Wherever possible, I do believe opposing points of view should be
debated respectfully if we want a better world. In short, pick your