Did Anyone Really “Win” When Russell Berger Lost His Job?
by Tim Boyer, Columbus, OH, @TimDanBoyer, CrossFitter since 2013
Does anyone really "win" when someone loses their job?
I know there are plenty who would say “yes,” but I challenge you to reflect: What does it accomplish? Did this person learn a lesson about the underlying problem? Or did they learn to just keep their mouth shut unless around like-minded people? Perhaps I'm too idealistic, but hear me out.
It's very easy to get angry and infuriated when someone uses their public pulpit to spread a negative message and most of time it requires a response. (The exception being trolls.) But it's the response that dictates what happens after. The LGBTQ community feels the need to fight and fight hard, especially when that message appears rooted in beliefs that won't budge.
But to fight every fight with the same unrelenting, fiery anger is misguided. We must always have passion but we do not further our cause by trying to fire everyone that says something negative. When along that path do we try to get them to understand the implication of their words? When do we try to build a bridge instead of building a higher wall? Why is it always us against them?
To toss those aside so easily only reinforces dissenting opinions that we are an enemy. With us or against us with no inbetween. There are plenty of well-intentioned people out there that say the wrong thing. There are plenty out there that hold firm in what they say but can't really begin to understand the impact of their words. The flame war leaves only scorched earth. Nobody learns. In fact, the persons on both ends of the fire only get pushed deeper into the recesses of their stance, they come no closer to the middle.
Harvey Milk was known for encouraging LGBTQ people to come out and increase visibility and to foster compassion from those who don't understand. I think more attempts to respond in a more measured way, to try and bridge a gap, than simply calling for a termination right away will pave the way for more progress. Engage to promote understanding, not to attack a dissenting view. I worry that by calling for termination so quickly (generally speaking) only presents that person as a victim with those whose views align with them and only increases the tension. Enduring change doesn’t happen with just a pink slip. Neither side should be treated like a doormat, no matter how badly they need to be checked.
It's all too easy to push away those who have a dissenting view. Sometimes opposing views are irreconcilable. But sometimes it's possible to agree to disagree. Sometimes it's possible to come to a mutual understanding through conversation and understanding another perspective in order to help them understand yours. Sometimes you can still interact with someone of dissenting views when you establish a mutual respect. Sometimes you can further the cause without the "gay wrath." But how will you know if you don't try?
Written with contributions from: