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Ep 5 Transcription "Responding to Hate with Love"

Leona:

Hi friends. Welcome to the, get off your affirmation podcast. I'm Leona Evans, and I'm here today as always with my son and co-host Matthew J. Evans.


Matthew:

Hi, I'm really glad to be here today.


Leona:

I'm glad that you're here too. And I'm glad that we're here speaking to everyone who acknowledges the power and potential inherent in the human spirit. Well, today I had an experience that I found to be really disturbing, and I wanted to record this episode without taking the time to do the extensive preparation that Matthew and I always do. I'm feeling very, very passionate right now. And I want to use this platform to share my ideas with you and ask you to give them some serious consideration. I believe that right now, we are witnessing a social pandemic on social media, the way so many people are communicating with one another is actually frightening to me.


Leona:

I woke up this morning and I started going through Twitter. Now Twitter is something that I'm new to. I have much more of a social presence on Facebook, but I started going through all of the comments to see what was happening and what was new and what some of the celebrities had to say and how my friends were responding. And I saw angry, vicious language, language that condemns people for who they are for what they look like, language that I haven't really heard or spoken since I was an adolescent. Now I've seen this language expressed on social media before, but this morning it seemed so pervasive. It just took on a whole new meaning for me, I'm not shaming or blaming anyone because I understand that so many of us are under such great stress that we feel that we have to unleash it. Somehow.


Leona:

We don't know how to take a rational position because we're so triggered emotionally by the abusive words of others that we feel the only way we can defend ourselves is to lash back the same way at them. We've reverted back to our adolescence,and the only way that we seem able to express ourselves is by attempting to hurt others the same way that they've heard us too often, we don't see the problem with that. We defend ourselves and we say, I have the right to say what I want to say. I have the right to express myself. Well, that's true. We do have the right to express ourselves, but very often, too often, we don't understand the consequences of the way we choose to express. We don't see that the disparaging remarks we make about other say more about ourselves than they do about them.


Leona:

And we don't seem to understand that the words we use have a profound and lasting effect on our children. And this is why I want to target this episode to people who are practicing the new thought ideas and self-help ideas, because truly there's a dichotomy between what we believe and what we say when we're emotionally triggered. and don't really know how to respond in a different way. Again, no shame, no blame. I commiserate with you. I understand where you're coming from. I am there myself, but I am very clear that the outward communication of that frustration does not make the situation better. It makes it worse. And it puts me at greater odds with myself and under no circumstances, am I willing to compromise the vows I made at my ordination or my own integrity, just to diminish another human being and indulge my dark side. I would rather gain control of my emotions and write those words down and burn them or talk about them in counseling or tell them to a trusted friend. But I don't want to put them on social media where it can fuel a fire that will consume us.


Matthew:

I think a lot of times people are going, they're not even thinking that that's, what's going to happen by posting something. I know for me as someone who's kind of grown up seeing online forums, being a vicious place, you know, all the way through my childhood, growing up, seeing that and, and just kind of learning to expect that almost like, Ugh, don't even go there to me having grown up with it. I think I've almost kind of become blind to it. Like I just kind of scroll past it like advertising, but when I really take the time to look at it, it is very shocking and very offensive stuff sometimes. And I think, you know, someone just posting something to vent or because they think it'll be funny or because they're looking for some kind of validation, not really considering the consequences of that.


Leona:

Now I have always admired a quick wit and uh, a quick turn of the phrase, so to speak. And so for years I would take pride in saying funny things and sometimes at my own expense and at the expense of others. But I came to understand as years went by that there's a price to pay. There's a price to pay for putting ourselves down. There's a price to pay for putting others down. One of the biggest prices that I think affects us now is that if we are too busy, trying to be clever calling names, trying to come up with a definitive phrase that impresses all of our friends and gives us a temporary chuckle from the tension that's going on, we are not in a position to share with others, what principle they have discussed that we disagree with and how to not defend ourselves, because it's not about us, but to defend our position with clarity and dignity.


Matthew:

When I grew up, there was always that segment of the online community that was full of hate speech and just kind of violent language directed at all kinds of different people or whatever. And so I kinda just, I think everybody just got used to ignoring it because it was just the kind of small portion. But I think more people nowadays are seeing that kind of language in more common communities online. It's, it's kind of spreading to more mainstream areas.


Leona:

And another thing that really bothers me, it pains me as a matter of fact, is that everything is becoming political. Everybody has to take a side. Even our pandemic can't be free from political influence. It is sad that as many people who are working to help and support one another, there are those segments of the population who make everything, a political battle you're wrong. I'm right. Somebody has to be blamed. And I'm here to ask us to put a stop to that. It's not about blame or shame. It's about the issue. What do we object to about the issue? How can we explain our position from a rational standpoint? How can we make sure we have effectively presented our ideas in a respectful and clear way, and how can we make every effort to hear what's being said to us and translate it into concepts that can help us understand what we disagree with and how we can find ways to come together on certain ideas and still agree to disagree.


Leona:

Now, I want to say that I would like very much to dedicate this broadcast to our dear friend. Aroon Gandhi, grandson of the legendary Mahatma Gandhi. A rune Gandhi is a legend in his own, right? I am pleased and proud to call him teacher and friend. He wrote the foreword to our book, the Evolving Peacemaker, a Commitment to Nonviolence. He was interviewed by you, Matthew in your award-winning. Short-film a quest for peace. Non-violence among religions. He is instrumental as a peace farmer, which is what he calls himself for reminding people throughout the world, that we have much more dignity and hope within us than we have previously believed. And if we stand by the Gandhi principles of nonviolent action, we have a much greater chance of being true to who we are to communicating our ideas and to moving from a culture of violence, to a culture of peace. And so Arun, we dedicate this to you with love.


Matthew:

I love you and appreciate you so much. I'm always looking forward to hearing your words of wisdom. You're such an inspiration to me. I really look up to you.



Leona:

Let's talk about what is underneath all of this violent, hateful, hurtful communication. It's fear. It's fear that there is something coming upon us that is so against what we really believe that we don't know how to handle it. It is the type of response that feels like we have to match the aggression that's coming toward us. It's coming out of fear in truth, nonviolent communication needs to come from love. It is a completely different mindset and framework. So I want to talk about the Gandhi/King methods of non-violent communication. Specifically the six principles of dr. King's methods of nonviolent action, which is based on Gandhi's teaching. And that is first of all, to understand that we are speaking about issues, not about people. It is only fear that propels us to want to annihilate people, to remove them because they're such a threat to us that we don't have enough courage to stand up to them.


Leona:

That is not true. It is not true at all. History has shown us that those people who have stood up in love in clarity and with dignity to opponents, not enemies, have made their point and have changed the world. So first we have to understand that this movement from a culture of violence to a culture of peace is not about winning a battle on a battleground. As Gandhi often said, an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. It's not the way. Winning and losing is not a permanent solution. Winning and losing is a power play. It's an old paradigm teaching. What we are after in new thought and in progressive spirituality or in any great religious teachings as I understand it is to find the love within us to transfer that love to our opponents, to have respect for the other person's point of view, because if we don't, they will never respect our point of view.


Leona:

And so we have respect for the other's point of view. We recognize that we are coming from a divine love, not a personal like or dislike, but we've got the foundation of love and respect, and from there, we can share our view of how to make a better world. We can listen to another's view. We can disagree vehemently on the topics as long as we don't attack the people. And that is one of Dr. King's six principles of non-violence that we seek to defeat injustice, not people not by demonizing people, not by separating ourselves from others, but by finding areas of agreement, as we reach out in love, not necessarily personal affection, but, agape love ,the love that connects us by divine design.


Matthew:

Sometimes it's hard in that kind of online environment where it's so easy for trolls or someone with a passionate opinion to really start escalating violent language.


Leona:

It is hard, and we can run into a lot of challenges. And I have run into some of them recently in my effort to practice social dignity on social media, I put a post up about treating each other with more respect on social media and it was fairly lengthy. And I discussed all the reasons that I thought it was really, really important. And someone responded to my post by saying, get lost, which obviously was really mild compared to some of the other responses that people get or that even we might make from time to time. And so I thought about that post. I was really sad because I thought a beautiful vase had been sullied and made dirty because I had such great intentions with that post. But then I thought, no, that is a real human being out there who is really feeling bad and sad and frustrated. And so I responded by saying, no, thank you. He said, get lost. And I said, no, thank you. Believe it or not within a couple of hours after I posted that, he came back with an apology.


Matthew:

I got to say of all of the times where I've heard about someone leaving a rude comment online that's one of the first times I've heard of someone getting an apology.


Leona:

It was so heartwarming. It was so beautiful. He said, I've just been so frustrated that I just have to put down everything that comes along and I really didn't need to do that. And I responded back to him saying, thank you so much. It really, really made my day, my week. As a matter of fact, it's still buoys me to think about how something like that could happen. And I've continued to reach out in nonviolent response, only sticking to the issues, asking for clarification, responding in a way that I thought was informative and considerate.


Matthew:

And polite. I mean, just saying no things is, is this something that's so kind of, it's unusually polite for an online comment. And so I think it kind of just shocks you to read something like that. You know, I think it's, it's so effective at creating a moment of empathy between two people who would normally maybe just see each other as anonymous opinions instead of real people trying to communicate.


Leona:

Yes. And especially the temptation to come back with what I usually see on social media is who are you to tell me to get your, the one that should get lost your, the one with no brains. You're the one who is unintelligent. You're the one who's making those ridiculous comments. You're the idiot. And I just want to truly ask you, please don't feel the need to go there. There's an archetype, the David and Goliath archetype that talks about how, when we try to fight an eye for eye a tooth for a tooth, we don't attain true victory. If we look at the situation from a consciousness of peace, from a consciousness of love and respect, so many other things can happen. Now, do you think I'm being a Pollyanna to say, all we have to do is respond in love and then we'll live happily ever after.


Leona:

I'm not. I'm not saying that. What I am saying is the road of violence goes nowhere. The road of violence beats us up and tears us up and violates the very essence of our being. We continue to travel, looking at the lowest level of humanity, it's a road to nowhere, but if we stay true to who we really are, it doesn't mean the end of suffering, but it does mean that we have chosen consciously to plant seeds for future generations, for a brighter future, for a future that sees the potential in all life that honors the beauty in all life. And that is able somehow to work through our differences rather than to ignore them or try to reign supreme over them. It's an entirely different mindset, but it's the one for which we were created. We were created in love to express love and to unite with one another.


Leona:

And to that end, it becomes our responsibility to see how we do that, to monitor ourselves, to observe ourselves, to encourage ourselves, to be the most respectful and the most compassionate that we can be. Now, I have written along with Matthew, a pamphlet called Before, it's too Late, an Essay on Spiritual Activism in a Politically Charged World. In this pamphlet, there are Dr. King Six Principles of Nonviolence and the key to nonviolent action. The Gandhi King principles. You can download it on Kindle, and if you're not able to do that, please message us on Facebook. Tell us your email. We'll download a copy and send it to you. Free of charge. This is not an advertisement of our material. We're not going to get rich on this for sure, but it is from the bottom of my heart that I want you to understand that the principles of non-violent communication are about withdrawing our power from the old eye for an eye tooth, for a tooth. I, when you lose framework, I have stand up to you. I have to be as loud as you, I have to be as mean as you, and then you'll see how strong I am and you'll walk away. That's not working. It's never really worked. And for sure, it's only putting us deeper and deeper into fear and stress, and we don't deserve it. I am so passionate. I seem to be monopolizing this conversation, where are you with this Matthew? I'm sure. You're really surprised that all of this is coming out without advanced notice.


Matthew:

Yeah. It's kind of surprising talking about this all of a sudden, without any warning, but this isn't something we haven't talked about a lot before. It was a big part of our pamphlet that we worked on and part of the Evolving Peacemaker. And it's one of the things that we talk about in our workshops a lot. So I know how important these Gandhi King tools are for communication, that temptation to respond to those kinds of violent comments, those rude, hurtful comments, those offensive comments, the temptation to give into that sense of shock and rage, that those kinds of comments and that kind of media can produce in us. It takes a lot of focus and a lot of discipline to resist that


Leona:

It does. It takes a tremendous amount of focus. This is a true paradigm shift. We've got to come to terms with the great teachings from all great religions or the human potential movement. We've got to come to terms with the fact that the basis of those teachings is love and respect. And we've got to find that within ourselves, otherwise our future is terribly uncertain. I highly recommend the six steps of non-violent social change. Dr. King talks about gathering communication, understanding why our opponents believe what they believe trying to get to the heart of the matter. Really understand where they're coming from. It doesn't mean we have to like it or approve of it, but we have to be knowledgeable. We also need to inform others, including our opposition, about our issues. It minimizes misunderstanding. It, it gains us support. We need to discuss and negotiate.


Leona:

We need to be clear about our own personal commitments. We need to find creative ways of taking action. And in that new mindset, there is absolutely no room for who can make the dirtiest most clever response or who can step on another's dignity. There's no room for that anymore. It's too late for that. It's time now to understand that we are spiritual beings learning to have a human experience, that we were created in love, that diversity is part of our experience, but that as we grow and mature, we learn how to understand one another more effectively. We need to learn effective ways of agreeing to disagree. We've got to understand that violence breeds violence, and we need to work together to find a way, regardless of how many times we have to try, we've got to find a way out of this violent, abusive mindset and stop hurting ourselves and one another, by our words. And so once again, I respectfully challenge all of us to get off our affirmation and practice social dignity on social media, to use words that heal, not harm, to use words that inform, not insult to use words to debate, not degrade, to use words to communicate, not denigrate, to use words that explain not inflame.


Matthew:

Thanks so much for listening to our podcast, get your free download of our essay before it's too late, Spiritual Activism in a Politically Charged World by messaging us on our get off your affirmation Facebook page, we will email you a PDF copy. Thanks so much for listening.


Have a wonderful week. You deserve it.

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