fighting evil

You can only fight evil as the person you really are

When you’re fighting evil, it’s important to be aware of your limitations. You can only fight evil as the person you really are. Trying to ignore your limitations will not make you a better activist — it just crushes you.

Fighting evil is a lot of hard work. It’s not just about being a good person, or caring, or having the right values. Mostly, it’s work. And no one has infinite capacity to do that kind of work.

In fact, no one has infinite capacity to do *any* kind of work. As human beings, we’re limited. We have bodies, and needs, and we can’t do everything. Trying to work flat out all the time doesn’t end well, no matter how important the work is.  

One of the things we need is love. Part of that is being aware that not everything is evil. Some things are good. Some things are amazing. Some things are important in other ways. And, no matter what, people matter, and our world is worth fighting for.

Fighting evil is incredibility emotionally draining. In order to fight evil, it’s generally necessary to come into close contact with it. And to face the fact that not everyone is on your side, and not everyone means well. Many people act with active malice or callous indifference. It can be very hard to keep going when you lose an important battle and feel the weight of the consequences. It can be very hard to avoid slipping into despair. Love is one of the most powerful defenses against despair.

It is not only ok but *necessary* to find things that you can value and enjoy. Valuing your own life and the things you enjoy is an important act of resistance. Keep in mind that one of the lives you’re fighting for is your own. You are worth fighting for.

You may have to do hard, draining things that no one should ever have to do. You may have to make sacrifices. You may need to learn how to do things you never thought you’d need to do. But you don’t have to do more than you’re capable of doing — and trying to ignore all of your feelings and limitations will not help.

Understanding your limitations actually makes you more effective (at activism and at anything else you might want to do.) Working with your brain and body works better than trying to become a superhero through sheer force of will. You can only fight evil as the person you actually are.

tiraspark:

Real situations are complicated

realsocialskills:

I don’t think allies /ever/ need more support than the marginalized group? Yes, allies need support sometimes. But not as much as the people actually dealing with the oppression.
realsocialskills said:
In a general sense, I agree with…

tiraspark said:

I think the type of support needed changes, though, depending on if a person is part of an oppressed group or not. Like, getting fired for supporting a group of people feels very different from getting fired for being a type of person. Both are bad, both can completely wreck a person, but the type of support needed is probably different.

Also, folks can be allies and oppressed in other ways.

So like, a cishet guy may be an ally to my queer group, but also be disabled and need support in that sense. And support in being an ally (like his disability may mean he can’t speak up and call people out verbally, but in written or signing format he can, etc)

realsocialskills said:

I agree with all of this.

To put my initial point more clearly though, I think it is important for activist communities to understand that:

  • Allies matter, and they are part of the communities of people who fight a particular evil
  • Allies put themselves on the line for us
  • They pay a price for standing with us
  • And, sometimes, that means they need help dealing with the consequences
  • When people have our backs, we need to have theirs, to the extent that we can without undoing the work we’re fighting to do
  • Ally concerns should not become central in the community
  • Fighting evil comes first
  • But allies matter, they’re part of the community, they pay a price, and sometimes they need support, and it’s possible to give it without centering ally perspectives in activism