Stop Reacting to Current Events and Start Responding

A Guide Going Forward During the Age of Irrationality

9 mins read
"Going crazy" by Boglárka Otti (CC BY 2.0)

The U.S. is in unchartered territory. Many of our leaders and institutions have abandoned rationality in favor of following orders or keeping the status quo. If you don’t think this affects you, that’s fine. Sooner or later it will. So when it does, here are some tips to keep in mind as we rally for the rule of law. And if you’re not leading with kindness, stop reading. This article isn’t for you.

1). Focus on language. Stop using vocabulary irrational people use. Don’t mimic them or making fun of their mistakes. It legitimatizes them while creating a power struggle.

We cannot satire ourselves out of this situation. This doesn’t mean we can’t laugh anymore. Just consider that when we focus on comedy, we dismiss the seriousness of an issue.

Ask yourself what your intention is and at what cost. If you’re in a position of notoriety, your responsibility is greater, because your reach is bigger.

2). Acknowledge your shock meterGaslighting is used to control us into submission. Irrational people feed on outrage while they attempt to re-litigate the Civil War, the Holocaust, and the dismantling of the Soviet Union.

Many people in this scheme are compromised. The depths of depravity will surprise us. We cannot allow ourselves to be corrupted by what they’re doing.

This is how they keep us reacting instead of responding. They want to wear us down by dictating the terms of our outrage. Know this and stay on point. They don’t want you to see the man (or issue) behind the curtain.

3). Take time to honor your feelings. Your emotions have been through the ringer and may go through more. Know when you’re in anger, sadness, fear, or shame. What do you need in those moments? It takes strength to say, “I need downtime now.”

What we’re going through is challenging, but remember that love and commitment are kryptonite to those who want to destroy the rule of law.

Find time to process what you feel, but make sure it’s separate from reading the headlines that are trying to bombard us into acquiescence.

Also, have a go-to for when you feel discouraged. Who raises your spirits? Makes you laugh? Has an encouraging word? Prepare now, so you don’t spiral into negativity. Our thoughts matter, so concentrate on the outcomes you want to achieve rather than getting stuck in demoralization.

4). Focus on behavior. Watch out for unrelated memes and the need to name call. When constructively criticizing, keep the spotlight on what someone does rather than who they are.

We have to remain steadfast about fighting for our rights and not get distracted by anyone’s lack of empathy or outlandish statements. They want us to be horrified so that we forget about their multiple violations.

5). Fundamentalists are in our government. These people have had the empathy beaten out of them. They seek control and use God to get it. They are willing to do vile things toachieve their goal of theocracy.

This is where irrationality lives. They have no appreciation for world affairs or U.S. history. They’ll rewrite the past to fit into their worldview.

6). Move past black and white answers. Fundamentalists and those complicit in their scheme are all about certainty. They need the black and white world in order to shame people into towing the line. They’ve hijacked faith to mean the opposite of “trusting something not based in proof.”

Things are not always binary. There is a lot of gray area in our lives.

Look to people’s intentions and analyze their long-term and short-term goals.

Avoid getting into an apples to oranges discussion.

7). Don’t respond to bait. When people say or do something that’s blatantly irrational, they want to take the wind out of our sails. And when we make headway, they attack our strengths to shift the conversation.

If I say, “There are irrational people in the world.” Someone can say, “How dare you say that?” or “What do you mean by irrational? I don’t think you’re rational.”

The media loves these kinds of conversations, because they can become fodder for ratings rather than information for the public good.

Instead of admonishing baseless commentary, question a writer’s intent. Why would they write an unsupported claim? How are they profiting from it? What’s the meme they’re pushing?

Let us remember that old question: “Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?” Consider that someone may be more interested in pushing a meme to embed a lie into global consciousness.

8). Irrational people are weak on their own. They want to follow orders, because they believe it gives them power and an identity. They may not have been treated well in their lives. If they view their actions as ordained by a higher power, they can’t be wrong because then their worldview collapses, so they double down.

Default to facts and use them well so you don’t get sidetracked. Stand strong and counter all lies.

9). Consider to whom you’re responding and why. They are tons of bots meant to derail a conversation. If someone makes irrational statements and has less than 300 followers, ask yourself if it’s worth giving that person a wider audience.

While the need to counter arguments is valid, the energy it takes can be used to highlight what we’re for rather than what we’re against.

There’s gray area here, so it comes back to honoring yourself and your time.

And don’t rely on sound bites. When you hear a clip or someone posts a statement that says something like “This senator doesn’t care about their citizens,” remember you’re not hearing and/or reading things in context.

Instead of accepting accusations, ask why someone would say them. What is it they hope to achieve?

Legislation has fine print and unless we’ve read a document, we cannot determine what was the deciding factor. If we really want to know, ask. Don’t assume.

However, we can keep in mind someone’s track record as it may speak volumes.

10). Wield kindness. Kindness is a super power, even more so during challenging times. This is an ability we all possess so smile at people. Compliment them with simple things like “I love your shirt.” Say thank you.

Don’t expect anything back. It’s not about you. It’s about giving freely because you can and because it makes a difference.

We’re in this together.

Originally posted on Medium. Re-posted with permission.

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Natasha is a writer, speaker, and TV dork. She’s the author of “The Privilege of Watching My Mother Die.”


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