But I’m Right AND I Want to Win!

boxing-gloves-400x400Does it do any good to fight? Does HOW we fight matter? I’m wondering this because two items online this morning have me pulling on my boxing gloves.

First, a predatory adoption “agency” spammed a social media group. In trying to detach from my haze of rage, I realized that I believe this type of “adoption” is a form of human trafficking. Which is to say that I believe this business is a moral evil that should be eradicated and its staff convicted of criminal charges. But while I really want to launch a campaign to revoke their business license and/or hack their web site, the rational part of my brain reminds me that: 1) we live in a supposedly “free country” and 2) these folks came from other ‘law agencies’ and will likely just regroup, rebrand, and continue, because…well, it’s big money. (Human trafficking is, apparently.) So I backed off a bit. I breathed….rapidly at first, and then a bit slower.

Back to that “free” country bit. The other depressing, infuriating news this morning is that immigrant reform will only be available to heterosexuals. Immigrant families headed by same-sex couples don’t get any help or protection. Once again, our lawmakers get to choose exactly who is worthy of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness Leave-It-to-Beaver white picket fences. I started to write a frustrated, venty post and then stopped. Who, exactly, did I need to tell?

Honestly, what I’d really like is for my parents to stop contributing hundreds of dollars to support DOMA and fund anti-gay campaigns. But they are my parents, and they are entitled to their own religious beliefs and moral convictions. I will still make my mother a cup of coffee (with hazelnut creamer) and fix my father a sandwich (with jalapenos) when they visit. Because I love them, even though we don’t agree in a big, big way.

Somewhere in all of this fight and angst and chaos, there’s a place of compassion that I want to inhabit. Not because I really want to see the other side. I’m far too opinionated for that. No, because until I can let go of my pugilistic tendencies, I can’t actually engage in dialogue. And without dialogue I can’t convince people that I’m right honor the human dignity and worth of others. Fighting without causing head injury, that’s my goal. Baby steps.

I DO wonder about my motives, though. When I am vocal online in opposing predatory adoption agencies, am I somehow attempting to prove — to myself, to the entire world — that I am a ‘good’ adoptive mom, i.e. enlightened, caring, perceptive? Am I so vocal in support of adoptees’ civil rights (to unfalsified birth certificates, for example) because I don’t want to be like MY parents? Is the rush of righteous self-indignation really good for my soul?

There’s no chance that I’ll slip into some place of moral relativity. My tolerance really is just barely reaching the level of honoring other people’s humanity. (I was raised southern baptist…serious training…not my fault.) So I’m not talking about letting go of moral absolutes. I’m just wondering if there’s a way that I can hold onto my passion for justice (as I see it) while also being effective, engaging without fighting. This is a big experiment for me, so I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you advocate online? What works?

5 thoughts on “But I’m Right AND I Want to Win!

  1. I can really understand your struggle with making sure you’re “picking fights” in regards to adoption-related issues for the right reason and not simply because you feel guilty or want to prove something. I will always struggle with guilt and shame for placing my daughter – after all, how could I go against every natural instinct I know I have and “get rid” of my daughter (even though that’s not really what I did)? So if I struggle with my guilt, is pushing for the civil rights of adoptees or talking to the point of nausea at people who seem to be stuck in their coercive, baby-selling and buying ways a way to pay penance for the choice I freely made? Sometimes I feel there’s such a fine line between guilt or fear causing us to do something and doing something we feel is right. After all, sometimes we come to feeling something is right through fear or something else like that ourselves.

    • Yes! That’s it, exactly. You captured what I am trying to explore. If my energy to advocate is driven by guilt (because I am benefiting from another woman’s loss and at potential challenge/struggle to our daughter) then my advocacy isn’t that helpful…not to me, because I’m not addressing what is really going on with me, and not to others, because they’ll likely sense the ulterior motive in my words. Of course, personal engagement with issues of social justice and equality are valid. But if I am responding out of guilt or a need to prove myself, then my self-worth is also tied up in the conversation, which makes me way more likely to attack because the conversation is about ME, not the issue.

      I so appreciate your thoughts Monika…so helpful…thank you! 🙂

  2. What a great post and great discussion! I do think that the more mindful we can be about what motivates us, the more mindfully and effectively we can act. It’s like finding the difference between reacting (which is often triggered by “negative” emotions like fear, hurt and guilt) and responding (which includes reflection like you have in this post).

    And wherever there is a winner there is a loser, and that is in the realm of duality. I strive to find in situations a place of unity (admittedly, I am not always effective at doing so but I’m getting better and better with practice).

    Adoption World is ripe with chances to practice. Here’s a post about 2 situations that occurred the same week a couple of years ago. http://lavenderluz.com/2011/07/intentions-gone-awry.html

    Though-provoking post, Elizabeth. Thank you.

    • Yes to striving to avoid dualism…balance is the key word for me. Thank you for the post you shared! I had to laugh at all the imagery: Civil War battlefields, car fights, oh my. Amazing how quickly we can feel besieged. I so appreciate the reminder that everyone wants to be heard. It is such a challenge to hear (offer understanding and mirror) without taking in (internalizing, defending). I know I will return this place of wrestling and reflection again and again. Thank you!

  3. Pingback: Conflict online: when to talk and when to walk

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