Recently, I’ve undergone a bunch of active bystander training and it’s fundamentally changed how I move through the world. Part of this is coming from re-certifying for CPR & first aid, part of this is because Lauren now teaches classes classes about the subject.
In case you didn’t know, an active bystander is defined as ‘someone who not only witnesses a situation, but takes steps to speak up or step in to keep a situation from escalating or to disrupt a problematic situation.’
The basic model is, if you notice a ‘situation’ that is wrong, or might be wrong/dangerous (harassment, dangerous behavior, discrimination, et al) you asses to see and offer what kind of help -if any- might be appropriate and safe. This ‘help’ can range from changing body position to stand along someone, to using humor, to saying ‘I don’t like what you’re doing,’ to offering to summon police/authority. For me, the most important aspect of this is not that I’m necessarily going to ‘solve’ things, but that I am more actively combatting my human biases of defused responsibility, that I am not -via silence/inaction- implying that I/society is supportive of shitty, unsafe behavior. It is training to act, to use what tools I have to try and have improved outcomes for everyone which is forever tempered by the fact that I’m not world police and I often don’t know what’s going on if is ok. But my judgement about when and how I can best help improves with practice.
There’s a pretty good summary of the active bystander concept (as well as information about the tools/techniques used) here http://web.mit.edu/bystanders/definition/index.html but I wanted to discuss some examples of what this has looked like/felt like in my life.
- Domestic Dispute while Out with My Daughter
Some months back, I was walking with my daughter home from the park, and while a man was getting in his car a woman was marching away down a nearby alley, flipped him off, and yelled something about Continue reading
I was recently given a challenge. The GM for my regular 5th Edition game session was taking a break, and I offered to run a one shot. I ended up having less than 24 hours to prepare and needed to make use of the same characters and world we’d been playing in (in addition to looping in the GM’s character, a pact of the book warlock styled after a lovecraftian ‘mad scholar’). Due to family and job obligations, I had -effectively- 2 hours to try and get everything set and ready. The session went great, everyone had a blast, and I thought I’d share my methodology for getting this done.
To Module or not to Module?
The simplest solution would simply to have been to Continue reading
In a lot of my communities, either explicitly or implicitly, the concept of ‘radical inclusion’ comes up.
For burners, it’s a stated value. For geeks, it’s something that isn’t said so much as felt (although this feels increasingly untrue as geekery goes mainstream and there’s so much more policing against ‘fake’ geeks). And, people I know question what does radical inclusion mean, who can you include, and what behaviors make it imperative that you exclude someone?
This is an excellent question to bring up and a bit of a third rail amongst my friends. That is, I think this is something lots of people are trying to figure out (I know I certainly am).
For me, virtues and values inevitably point to a tension, point to a dialectic and a dialogue. I’ve become enamored recently with the concept that ‘wholeness as holiness’ and I think values have to be perpetually rebalanced with one another Continue reading
Recently, a friend posted ‘Why do so many of ‘US’ suffer?’ Which was a question I found interesting and personally relevant, so I ended up writing a 4000 word response which I broke into several comments; both in terms of ‘US’ in the smallest and grandest sense I could manage. And now I’ve collected it all as a note.
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night.” From Howl by Allen Ginsberg
I think about this quote sometimes, think about how it was true -for Ginsberg- then, and how it certainly feels true now.
I know a great many people I love who suffer, terribly. The causes and particular species of suffering are legion: anxiety, depression, loneliness, and all manner of ill of mind, body, and spirit. The fact that these people are so often brilliant, loving, kind, hard working, beautiful, and -depending on how you calculate such things- some of the most materially wealthy, successful, and powerful homo sapiens who have ever lived would be consistently shocking if it didn’t appear with such regularity.
We suffer for reasons that are (at least) as Continue reading
Note: If Google Docs is to be believed I Initially Wrote this post in March 2016. I posted it to facebook but it somehow never got posted here. In light of my *last* post, I thought I should post it, again; for the first time. Because it it newly true.
I’ve been thinking recently about the stories I tell myself about the world and my friends and also, most importantly, the stories I tell myself about myself. I’m constantly weaving these narratives. “Well, this happened so he must think I’m incompetent,” or “That didn’t work hence trying this was a terrible idea.” I don’t think it’s possible (ultimately) to wholly avoid telling myself stories; and even if it were possible I’m not sure if it would be *useful.*
As a human being, I connect dots\points of data in order to make predictions & inform my behavior. One of the great problems with this incredible ability however is that every story is ‘sticky;’ they can so readily encourage me to overlook or misinterpret experience that doesn’t fit the narrative. It is of the highest importance to really evaluate the stories I tell myself; to avoid, replace, or otherwise transform the stories which don’t serve me. And I have a choice in all this: for instance, when facing failure or setback I get to choose to see it as indicative of a fundamental flaw in myself or I can choose to see it as part of the price I pay to learn & grow. Either ‘could’ be true (although I suspect the the latter is *more* true, most of the time); so it comes down to which story gets me closer to the life I want. Continue reading