Damaged

The news lately has me spun up. Acts of violence and hatred turned my thoughts to the individuals responsible. People who are so damaged that they feel the need to hurt others to make their world right.

Case in point, the May Day riot in Oakland where people broke store windows, car windshields, and left graffiti. This was called the “Oakland to Baltimore” protest in response to the murder of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police. I understand the anger. When we are betrayed by the people that are supposed to protect us, when the cops are damaged, it cuts even deeper.

But what does damaging commercial property solve?! How much did that damage cost dealerships and shop owners who may not have any extra money to cover these damages? Are these protesters civic-minded individuals fighting for a cause or are they people with deep-seated issues waiting for a reason to damage others around them? I applaud those willing to walk and speak out in protest. The broken people who use tragedy to spread more destruction just hurt my heart.

I’m also hurt by the unforgivable treatment of women in tech know as Gamergate—especially as a male working in this industry. The recent article by Maddy Myers reminded me of this problem that is not visible to most of us.  Worse than just breaking property, these damaged men send death and rape threats to women like Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn. As it is with many cowards, these attacks are anonymous. Damaged people hide in the darkness. They justify their horrific behavior with flimsy excuses and blame the victims. These men are so damaged that they can’t see anything wrong with what they are doing. They are so damaged that they are afraid of the opposite sex. What kind of abuse or macho brainwashing did they have to endure to become the warped individuals they are today?

Whatever the cause, the result is damaged wiring. These faulty brain connections allow these people to think they have the right to hurt others. They see hate as a tool and imagine themselves as some sort of knight defending an ideal. These people have lost perspective on reality and don’t see a problem with their behavior. Here’s a quick quiz if you’re unsure what constitutes being seriously broken.

You’re damaged if…

…you choose violence as a solution.

…you feel superior to someone because of sex, race, color, or creed.

…you verbally abuse someone for any reason—especially if they “don’t belong” in your community.

…you threaten someone with physical violence or encourage others to do so.

The solution is to disavow this behavior. As a society, we need to reject any sort of violence or hatred. We can’t idly sit by and silently condone these acts by doing nothing. Speak out. Offer help to the victims. Find peaceful ways to protest injustice. Teach your children to love unconditionally. Love unconditionally.

There will always be damaged people in this world performing horrible acts, but we can minimize their actions by caring about one another. Every kind act heals our world. Every word of support soothes some pain.

We are all damaged to some degree. Damage isn’t an all-or-nothing condition. I fight my brokenness all too often, but I know each time I choose to respond with love, each time I choose inclusivity over segregation, each time I swallow my pride and admit I am wrong, I’m a better person. I’m healing some of my own damage.

None of this violence has directly affected my life–I read about it and watch the videos, but I’m not the person being victimized. There are no death threats against me and no property damage that I need to fix, but distance is no excuse for apathy. Let’s seek out ways to fix the damage. Let’s find a way to love each other no matter how damaged we all are.