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For the last couple of days, I’ve watched people I’ve respected continuously cause harm to others. It has been a eye-opening, heartbreaking experience. It’s hard, watching someone fuck up to the point of no return. You’re hopeful that they’ll come to their senses, hopeful that they’ll see the err of their ways and do their best to make amends. When you see them dig in their heels after dozens of people have told them they’re wrong, you begin to wonder if ego is more important than contrition.

The human ego is a fragile thing. It causes us to act in ways we shouldn’t and say things we should reconsider, especially when we’re in the wrong. No one ever wants to be wrong. It’s embarrassing, but it’s inevitable. It’s an unavoidable fact of life; we will, at some point, get it wrong. We will unintentionally do harm to others by word or deed. But it’s what you do afterward that matters. I am reminded of a few really great posts about what to do in the event of a major fuck-up, like Chescaleigh’s YouTube video, and Alexandra Moffett-Bateau’s post on online transphobia. While I do quibble with some of the ideas offered in Moffet-Berteau’s essay (because I do believe some people do intend to offend) I think it would be helpful to those who are sincere about community building. She suggests an unbiased third party intervention.

This is why I think the presence of objective third parties during these kinds of conflicts is so important. As a member of the POC LGBTQ communities [2] , I feel my own hurt when folks of any of my communities are degraded in one way of another. But as an educator, I also have a strong desire to make sure people are educated around how to better respect/support the identities of those around them.

It’s a solid idea, but the peacemaker should also be someone familiar with both parties, at least well enough critique in love. And if said target isn’t receptive the first, second, or thirtieth time, she’ll probably never get it. All you can do is educate and move on. The rest is up to them.

Image courtesy Stefan Bucher

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