Forgive me in advance for going all ‘personal’ on you, but it’s been a bad couple of days for democracy and human rights, and therefore it’s been a bad couple of days for me. Usually when I feel discouraged I pick up one of my many non-fiction books on social reformers and immerse myself in their lives and experiences. Reading about past social reform movements gives me hope and perspective.
Many people have commented on my "grace" in responding to people who disagree with me and aren't very nice about it. Well, I wasn't always so gracious—there was a time when I could be pretty snarky. I corrected people's grammar (how funny is that? #karma),
I bombarded people with facts, I interspersed my comments with "oh please!" or "typical!" and although I didn't engage too much in name-calling, I did use a fair amount of sarcasm (still do at times), and a minor epithet every now and then.
I'm certain I didn't change a single person's mind with that type of engagement. But what I did do is exhaust myself, make people feel bad about themselves, and drive an even deeper wedge into our already polarized society.
Dr. Michelle Martin is a social worker, policy specialist and Assistant Professor at California State University, Fullerton in the Department of Social Work, where she teaches social welfare policy, and researches dynamics related to immigrants, political asylum-seekers, refugees and other displaced populations.