Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lashing Out

If you're part of an activity, event, group, community (or tribe) that is being scrutinized by outsiders, then the last thing you (an 'insider') should do when 'attacked' is to say something like:

  • "You've never had to work in a factory 8 hours a day, don't talk to me about after-work boozing"
  • "You're not on the Council, you shouldn't complain about efficiency and timeliness unless you've served"
  • "You've never had a child who's homosexual, don't preach to me about gays and sin"
  • "You've never attended a candlelight vigil, don't criticize it for being unproductive"
  • "You've never taught a class of 80 kids, don't lecture me on shouting to my students in class"

All the 'lash-out' statements above sound logical and are most probably true, but :

  • they do not constitute further arguments for your cause or movement
  • they do not make your tribe any more attractive to outsiders
  • they do not give you more credibility as a spokesperson (think about it)

If YOU make such statements, it may only show that you tend to get upset when non-members raise questions about that which you're a member of. You'd also miss a great chance to gently educate an outsider about your group (conversely, why should someone be keen to learn when you've just scolded him?)

Leave the lashing-out to other non-members.

So, let other non-factory workers chide the non-factory worker who has a problem with factory workers drinking heavily after work. Let other folks with no experience with homosexuals do the rebuking of straight folks who speak insensitively about your loved-ones who are gay. And so on.

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