Posts Tagged ‘ acceptance ’

Twitter Hater

“…Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.…” The Honourable Jack Layton.

I had my first ever troll engage with me the other day on my twitter feed. This person was full of vitriol and hatred, calling me a freak and consigning me to hell and damnation. We sparred back and forth some on twitter, him (I’m presuming male here) ranting and raving about the aforementioned hell and damnation, how The Church (in this case The Roman Catholic Church) has history to back it up (not that he was clear on that point) and reminding me several times that I was a freak and a sexual deviant.

It would have been very, very easy to take offense to what he was saying. It would have been easier still to consign him to the rubbish pile of village idiots and simply assume he was speaking out of mean-spiritedness and hate. After all, when I look back on what he wrote, there was nothing but hatred and intolerance in every post. Nowhere did I see a willingness to talk respectfully about our divergent views. Oh yes, it would have been very easy to hate this man.

Except, I don’t. I don’t hate him; I don’t even dislike him. Truth is, all I feel for him is compassion and a deep and quiet sadness.

As some of you may, or may not know, I am a public speaker. I speak about what it’s like to live as an openly transgender man. I tell my audience that no question is off-limits, and I mean it. I’ve been asked about everything from masturbation (do I?) to organ donation (no, you can’t donate your penis to me, but thanks for the thought) and everything in between. Several folks have asked me if I’ve ever been the recipient of hateful interactions. Until recently, I said no. I would often then go on to tell them how I believed I would reply, should I ever be in that position.

As it turns out, I replied exactly how I figured I would. I found myself staying strangely calm and detached. Not dissociated but rather, removed from the emotional dung that he threw at me. I found myself reading the posts repeatedly, trying to parse out what the deeper message behind them was. I firmly believed, and still do, that one does not engage that much if there’s not something deeper driving it. I suspect part of that is having practiced that detached reaction with my 6-year-old son who deals with some profound behavioural issues. When he was younger, tantrums lasting a couple of hours were not uncommon. I learned that a cool, calm and collected reaction to his emotional firestorm was the best way to calm him down and re-ground him. I’ve spent several years perfecting that kind of reaction in the face of white-hot, uncontrolled tantrums.

As I think on the interaction further, I realize there is something deeper at work in my non-reaction. It’s love. I don’t know this man and have no idea if he’s the kind of person I would choose to have in my sphere of friends though, given his reactions to me, I think it’s safe to say I wouldn’t. It wasn’t the charm, or the eloquence with which he presented his arguments. In fact, the arguments themselves were weak and didn’t contain a single shred of verifiable evidence to support them. It wasn’t his willingness to hear me as a person (there was none) or so see me as an intellectually competent contributor. Rather, my love for him was the love I would have for someone who is acting out of blind fear; lashing out at something they don’t understand and are too afraid to investigate.

In short, what I feel for my son when he loses complete control over himself and his actions is the same gentle, patient and sorrowful love. I found myself wondering who had hurt him so badly that he was unable to see the humanity behind the words. I wanted to know what about himself did he see in me that provoked such fear. I asked myself to think on what it would be like to walk in his shoes; would I feel the same, as I believed he did. I caught myself hoping that if he had family, none of them would have to see this side of him. I found myself concerned that perhaps he DID have family, and had driven them all away with his soul-crushing fear. I realized that I felt indescribably sad if that was truly the case. I know what it’s like to feel utterly alone and isolated. I can’t imagine how it would feel to know that you’re the one who was the cause of your own isolation.

I also prayed for him. I prayed that wherever he was in his life, his road ahead be filled with healing and love. I prayed that if he had family, they would support him in his journey out of fear and hatred. I hope that if he ever is given a chance to leave this all behind, he takes it. I want those circumstances that change him in such a profound way to be gentle and done with love, not forced on him with anger and hatred. My heart says he’s had enough hate in his life to last several lifetimes; I want him to know peace and love.

Although he may hate me, I don’t hate him. Truly, love is better than anger, hope is better than fear and optimism really is better than despair.

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