On conflict – how we can diffuse it, and how we move forward with love
August 18th, 2019

24 hours have gone by since the crashing of Drag Queen Storytime in suburban Ottawa, and I have further thoughts to write about. Not about the conflict we witnessed itself or analysis on the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights in our world today (I believe there is absolutely no debate any more… we all deserve the right to be our authentic selves. Full stop.)

Rather I have something to say about conflict in general terms, and the human response to it… and how I think we best respond in those terrifying situations and move forward.

MY FIRST THOUGHT: call “religious protestors” what they are – dangerous, hate-filled extremists.

Labeling the fanaticized extremists as “religious” is too gentle. They have disgustingly corrupted the very notion of religion and use it as a guise for their insane views and actions. Labeling the extremists as “protestors” devalues the concept of peaceful and useful protest.

No, these are DANGEROUS, arguably smart [in the sense that they’re organized, strategic, and gathering steam] hate-filled, increasingly confrontational, all-too-often violent extremists. Let’s all start calling them what they are and apply the full forces of the law and decency in society to stop their hate. If we keep minimizing what they’re doing in our communities, events, society, world… we continue to risk their overtaking of humanity! We cannot reason, level, dialogue with them once they are extremists. We cannot engage any longer.

Enough on that… in sum, we cannot call extremists “religious protestors” and reason with them. We must legally stop them.

Photo: CBC Ottawa

MY SECOND THOUGHT: my learnings and best suggestions on conflict situations

In the photo above, you can see clearly the tension of a hateful conflict as it unfolded. We see a hateful extremist engaging with the Drag Queen who was telling children’s stories. I’m in the blue golf shirt, standing by.

Immediately in this situation, as the conflict immediately caught fire, my protective, instinctive human response kicked in. I didn’t hesitate to stand near the unfolding conflict… in the interest of getting the hateful extremist to leave the building and offer any form of protection I could to those around.

I have the benefit of having received lessons in conflict de-escalation when I got hired as a Resident Assistant/Floor Supervisor at the Humber College residence, and that’s immediately where my mind went when this extremist erupted….

In a heated conflict when someone has literally lost their mind, there’s similarities between them and a drunken college student that I had to deal with as a Resident Assistant. Maybe the difference is that these extremists are far more dangerous and potentially violent.

That speaks to my earlier point: you cannot reason or argue with someone in a crisis conflict. You have to deal with the SITUATION, not the person. They are being belligerent – which is not a regular human condition. Their mind isn’t functioning right… they are literally drunk.

So, you, as the by-stander have to maintain a level of calm. You cannot engage. Your goals are safety of everyone else and removal of the danger.

In this case, we immediately had the organizers of Drag Queen Storytime call the police. There was no way to deal with this extremist – he was not capable of ever coming to a level state of mind in the situation.

Maintaining your calm when someone is belligerent is actually very powerful – they will perceive sub-consciously the difference in tone in your voice versus theirs. They might not calm down; but by not engaging with them, you maintain your power in the situation.

– remain calm as you can be
– maintain safety of by-standers and yourself
– diffuse the crisis by removing the subject from the situation, which in this case required the police

The only way forward is by staying our course – by being steadfast in our support of justice, equality, diversity and LOVE. By supporting the ability of everyone in our society to be their authentic true self. By fighting the good fight to champion a world that is safe and supportive where those who celebrate love of self and others can live a life of love.

LOVE > hate. Always.

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