Did you ever dislike someone or something just because of one incident and made it a point to stay away from that person or that thing for a long long time without giving a second try? However mature we think we are, sometimes letting go such feeling and giving it one more chance is not all that easy, even though the whole thing might look extremely silly to others :-)
Alright, here I go, getting rid of one such baggage.
Few years ago, I watched (on youtube) a great speech by one of the activists. I liked it, but there were a couple of places where I felt the logic could be further improved to make it more effective. In the excitement to contribute towards the movement, I ended up writing couple of suggestions to the presenter. I was even pleasantly surprised to receive a reply (after all as a famous activist that person must be getting hundreds of emails), but what I received was shocking - I felt the reply was arrogant, sarcastic, disrespectful and mean. Maybe that person thought it was harmless humour*, but nevertheless, I felt something like "I am already into this cause, so its not a big deal, but what if a beginner level person who is still trying to appreciate the cause, gets similar reply from this activist and gets turned off?"
* Its not uncommon for people taking offense on funny remarks, it often happens because of (a) cultural difference or (b) difference in styles
I then started wondering - Its a fact that this person has created a big wave and made lot of people interested in the cause, but what if lot of haters also got created in the process? Isn't that more damaging to the cause? Shouldn't it be done in a more civil way? I got carried away by that "concern".
Over the past few years, I continued to see posts about that person floating around - new speeches, interviews, Q&A etc. But I kept ignoring them, for the fear of getting angry again. What if I again come across arrogant content that harms the cause that I care about? What will or can I do about it?
- If I openly write about it, then his followers will criticize me for commenting on someone who is at least doing something and will advise me to channelize my energy towards those who aren't doing anything at all. Its always difficult to question/criticize any kind of activists even when they are wrong
- On the other hand, I couldn't tolerate someone (especially activists) harming the cause also, knowingly or unknowingly, and this would simply frustrate me
I just couldn't handle the dilemma. So, I chose to stay away instead of dealing with it in a smart way.
But today, I saw a thread in Facebook, on one of my friend's wall, where there was a huge negative exchange of words because of the disagreements in attitudes/approaches between the two. And it was all about the same cause that I care about. So, I felt very sad, sorry for both as well as the cause.
However, this also brought something that was hidden deep inside me i.e. the stand I took with the above said activist.
- Did I have enough or any data points to say that the said activist has created many haters? Not really
- Was I being too theoretical and hypothetical? I guess yes
- Was there no possibility that the particular email might have been just a moment of weakness if not a humour? Perhaps, but in either case I never pushed enough to find the truth, and it was not fair to judge without giving a second chance
- Lets say for a moment, that the person was a jerk or inexperienced at that time, does it mean that it holds true all through the life? Obviously no, I know how much I have changed over the last few years!
- Was I the loser in any way by ignoring that person's further speeches or other content? Perhaps yes, some interesting point of views, why not?
- Did staying away help the cause in any way? Definitely not, but no much damage done also, I continued to do what I could anyway
- Finally, was it secretly about my ego all the time? I still don't think so, but it was silly or stupid for sure, whatever you want to say!
With this honest introspection, I am finally letting it go now, and its a relief :-)
I am not saying that I am now in full agreement with that activist's methodology (though I agree with the ideology), but I am now more open minded and curious to know the statistical success of that approach.
The debate on "what is the most effective way of bringing in the change" will continue forever, and I will proceed in the way that suits me best (considering my abilities, time, money etc.), but am sure I can learn few things from this activist also, why not? Maybe I will become this activist's fan also once again :-)