I say, often, that I don’t have separate lives. My husband and I work in the company, in the same industry, that struggles with many of the same issues as my hobbies. Sometimes even at the same time, which means I will end up in cycles where I truly cannot get away from a thing.
Sometimes that gives me the opportunity to think about an issue from a few different perspectives.
Right now it is the confluence of the NSA-RSA relationship fallout and the Socci Olympic Games and the Ravhellenic Games moderators.
The NSA has done some Very Bad Things. To anyone who has been paying attention, they aren’t shocking, though they do elicit an ongoing feeling of horrified betrayal. They haven’t betrayed their mission, and they are using the tools available to them (including most of the world’s cryptographers) but as a collection of people they have fallen down the rabbit hole where they may be (and in many minds, possibly including mine, totally are) burning the village to save it as they vacuum up data on everyone and save it for later in case someone in that haystack decides to maybe commit a crime later. (So we can prosecute them for stuff we didn’t catch them at before…or something TERRORISM!)
RSA, a group previously trusted to not be a governmental bootlicker, has been revealed to have taken money (a lot of it) to recommend products as secure that may be only sort of secure, against parties who weren’t the NSA. There is a vast difference between “This is Secure” and “We know some people who can break in and hope it isn’t anyone else”.
RSA didn’t disclose this relationship. They betrayed those who trust them to endorse, and basically represent, security in the world. Not NSA brand security, not corporate security, but security as a goal, with some amount of purity and rigor. They run the largest above board security conference, among other things.
And now a lot of individuals in the industry are feeling hurt and betrayed. And are choosing to remove their support of RSA, the RSA conference, RSA products. Basically, shunning. Because they are angry.
Russia is hosting an Olympic Games. Russia also has passed some laws that make it look like their social policy branch was taken over by Westboro Baptist. (I really like President Obama’s response. “No, I’m not showing up for your BS. You get Billie Jean King.” Enjoy the US being represented by a gay activist athlete.)
The Ravelry community holds a celebration of the Olympics – you may recall last Olympics’ dust up over the name of said celebration. A bunch of knitters/crocheters/weavers get together, watch the games, and challenge themselves to do something amazing for the duration. Last time out I made a huge color shifting shawl. 17 days, and it covers most of a queen sized bed.
The moderators of the Rav Games forum have attempted to avoid getting gay people politics in their knitting by declaring that the Rav Games could not have any political messages. The policy of “no rainbows in projects or avatars” was felled quickly after protest but the replacement has been silencing of people without explanation and the kind of flailing and sputtering that one gets used to if you hang out in the places where people from different cultures/spaces come together and then hurt each other and then don’t know how to handle it.
On one hand there are people (me included) who feel that Russia’s laws about homosexuality are an affront to humanity. They try to deny individuals the ability to be themselves, to express their individuality and their humanity. (the one time I tried to change who I was my brain broke, it was not pretty) On the other hand there are people who are maybe a titch homophobic (or a lot) or really don’t get what all the screaming is about. (Attacks on identity that you don’t feel can be difficult to wrap your brain around. Which is why I suggest using your heart. If you don’t understand why someone is hurt, try starting from understanding that they are hurt and then figure out if you can help make it stop. Really, easing suffering in the world is usually a pretty good goal. – Need blog post on acting around blind spots.)
Both of these hands knit/crochet/weave and want to support the Olympic ideals.
The second hands tried to get the first hands to go away about it. The first hands are really angry. Some people who weren’t really on either hand got really angry about Rav, which usually does an awesome job of being inclusive and supportive and caring (where else can you upload a picture of your failed attempt at a sock and have everyone’s master knitter grandma and the coolest new designer help you fix it or explain that it is a valid design choice in Iceland?)
Both of these situations have people who are passionate about the topic and who are rightly and righteously angry. I’ve said before that I find “I am angry” to be a deeply feminist statement (for the brand of equality for all social justice stuff that I call feminism. I may need better words, but that’s the label in my brain and I don’t have a better option right now.)
Anger is awesome. It is powerful and burning, lighting up wrongs and indignities and can be a step in healing trauma. It is a power against depression, it drives toward action, toward solution, toward never accepting this terrible thing again. It feels intoxicating, this freedom to declare something that has hurt you, that has betrayed you, to be angry at a wrong means you no longer accept it, you are not claimed by it on its terms. The freedom, the ability to feel angry and know that you are angry and to express to others that you are angry is important.
If you haven’t had much space to be angry before you may not know how to handle it. Some people never get control of their anger. There’s a reason The Incredible Hulk is portrayed with a high level of destruction. I have good days and bad days. Controlling anger takes practice. Many issues, and these in particular, are in spaces where people are surprised by their anger, and are not accustomed to feeling angry and then are surprised when other people are angry against them. (Or angry in a direction against the direction they are angry in.) The same clarity that anger gives means that for many people, you only see one good choice of how to act on your anger… and it may not be the same choice that your friend sees, even if they are angry about the same thing.
Good anger gives you strength to redress wrongs and focus. Own it, have it, give other people to the space to be angry about big things that have hurt them or others. And then use it.
Where many of the people close to me, industry or personally or philosophically, have been suffering is when anger is directed at individuals instead of at actions/choices or large problems which are actually the cause and when anger directed choices are deemed inappropriate by people they thought they agreed with. There is a world of difference between “You did something that hurt me” and “You’re an asshole!” that can be difficult to express when angry, and difficult to accept from someone who is angry.
Choices about principle, about anger, are often complicated. Do you walk away from a space that has betrayed you or do you go and fight to get it back to being what you thought it was? And can both of those choices be valid and respectable? (hint: yes) When and how you take on a discussion in a space that you are angry with is another deeply personal question of energy, of purpose, of ability and desire to use anger.
We all need to be able and willing to express anger and have our anger be accepted as reasonable. We all need to be willing to figure out what is actually making us angry and direct our anger at it, trying to minimize collateral damage. We need to be doing these things for ourselves and working to forgive and listen to anger that is expressed without that focus.
For me – I’m angry, and going to RSA. I’m angry, and may not be knitting during the Olympics. (Or not Olympic knitting anyway) Personal choices, public anger.