1/31/15

TPE: B is for Belligerent

Belligerent is not a word most people think of in a positive aspect. Honestly, it is the case of my turning the concept on its ear right now, because belligerent almost always has a negative connotation. You know what else has a negative connotation? Not being part of the mainstream religious set. The farther you move away from that mainstream activity and the more pressure you get from society to bend back into their comfortable norms. The problem is, the norms are comfortable for THEM and not YOU.

When confronting this as a young woman, I got angry. Then I got belligerent. When people did things like called me Satan's whore, I didn't just shrug off their comment. I got right back in their faces and challenged them to prove it. I demanded that they produce evidence that their accusations held water. This lead to a few narrowly avoided physical confrontations and my locker being the target of theft several times. It was, however, something that I just couldn't 'ignore' them and hope it would go away.

People say that if you ignore bullies they'll go away. That's not exactly true. They'll keep at it until they are satisfied with the damage they caused. This means that they'll escalate the harassment until they get the reaction they want out of you. I got belligerent and dug my heels in when I hit the point that the harassment became unmanageable by non-confrontational means. I had people tell me that I was getting angry over nothing, but they weren't in the position of having people telling you all the time that your way of life was wrong and that you deserved what you got (and worse) because you simply weren't Christian. They weren't in a position where they had to struggle with the question of if you said or did the wrong thing, would the bullies go after your younger siblings. (That happened once. That bully had the misfortune of taking on all three of us at once due to that. And we didn't fight fair, we fought with what ever worked. My only regret about that instance is that we didn't draw blood from that little shit.)

Sometimes, you just can't be passive. Sometimes you have to dig your heels in and get ready to fight. The trick is recognizing what battles are worth waging and what ones are not. In the USA, there's been an uptick in the 'conservative' Christian rhetoric. It has lead to people who just want to practice their religion in peace being the subject of harassment that goes beyond someone spitting on your and having terrible things to say about you, your family, and what their opinion of your afterlife is going to be. People are being told that they can't have a church because its not some flavor of Christianity. People are being told that they can't participate in public prayer because they're not part of that accepted group. There are people who are dealing with their lives and livelihoods in danger all because they're openly practicing their religion.

I wish it was as simple as screaming Odin and beating the piss out of the biggest jerk in the room. But we're not kids in the schoolyard anymore. And anyways, the schoolyard has become a more dangerous place over the years. A shoving match and a few punches have been morphing into collective beat-downs. (Do a few google searches on the topic of violence in schools and you'll find evidence of it. It's repulsive.) Now, we have to fight smarter. We have to take the fight into the courts and press it as high and as far as it will go. We have to take the fight into the larger community and reveal the bigots for what they are, generally the western equivalent of the nutjobs who are out there as terrorists in the world. When it becomes necessary to defend ourselves with force, we must always make a point of never being the one who starts the fight and always being the one who finishes it.

We need to get angry and be belligerent. Nobody is going to ride to our rescue. We have to do it ourselves. And if we don't do it, how much worse is it going to be for the next generation? Because these kinds of problems don't just go away. They fester and get worse as time progresses.

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