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Punish Them When They Wake Up

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rob Kall       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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Yesterday, I interviewed former assistant secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts for my radio show;
Podcast: Paul Craig Roberts on collapse of American Justice and Rights, 911, Rescue by Collapse of the Dollar or Revolution
The first person to post a comment was an ex-pat in China who has a vendetta for Roberts because Paul was a member of the Reagan administration--- assistant Treasury Secretary. This commenter, who refuses to use his real name, attacked Roberts, not only personally but also for his personal life.

The problem is, Roberts is not the person he was in the days of Reagan. He woke up and is a very different person. For years, he was a brutal critic of president George W. Bush and Republican policies. Now, he criticizes Obama as well. His writings were widely posted on progressive and further left leaning sites until late March, when he penned a good-bye, saying he was done with writing, not feeling very hopeful about the future of the USA. My podcast, linked to above, certainly catches his mood and his reasons for feeling that way.

But this article isn't about Roberts in particular. It's more about the abusive commenter and people like him who attack people who have the courage to speak up after they've woken up and smelled the coffee.

Last fall, I helped organize and moderated a discussion with former Cigna Communications director Wendell Potter, another man who woke up and gave up a high paying career to speak out on the evils of the health insurance industry. I first interviewed him a few days after his initial testimony before congress. He went on to appear on Bill Moyers show, Democracy Now, and hundreds of other media venues. The day before I moderated the event with him he'd been on BBC, Bill Maher, Air America, Sirius Radio and more. Potter has become a truthteller, supporting health care reform, advocating for single payer.

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But at the Potter event I moderated, a pair of hecklers attacked him for his old job. They accused him of making a big salary and lying, attacking Michael Moore's Sicko. They shouted and interrupted the discussion and eventually, a guard at the Philadelphia Free Library, where the event was being held, had to be called to persuade the gentleman to function appropriately in the forum.

It was true. Potter did make a lot of money in his old job and he did attack Michael Moore's movie. But he woke up and changed his ways.

I've seen the same kind of thing happen in other cases. Critics attack people who had been right wing, who were, in their opinion wrong, even evil, and they get nasty. I think this is profoundly misguided.

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It's easy to preach to the choir, to complain about injustices and the kinds of things progressives complain about-- to other progressives. The real challenge is to wake people up. As a publisher and political writer I've long believed that this is one of my prime roles. I wrote about it a few years ago: Awakener; My Occupation. And yours?

Waking people up is the challenge we as a progressive minority face-- getting people to see their world through the lense we use to view it. It's a big deal, (or as Joe Biden said, "a big f*cking deal") a major achievement when we actually do it, when we get a conservative, or a non-political person to care and to see our way.

When we actually do wake people up, we want to embrace them, support them, encourage them. It's absolutely essential that we engage in radical forgiveness, accepting them for who they have become, not punishing them for who they were. You don't have to be a born-again right wing Christian to forgive trespasses.

Yet there are people like the Roberts commenter and the hecklers at the Potter event who can't forgive and who abuse the opportunity that awakened people provide them by participating in progressive forums.

The fact is, it's easy to be a liberal or progressive if you grew up in a liberal home, with liberal parents and perhaps a liberal community and religious background. It's much tougher to wake up and become a progressive, to talk progressive talk when you grew up a conservative. It's not a small step. It's a heroic journey.

People who have awakened DO have a history, often a conservative, history that progressives see as negative. But the character it's taken to rise above that history is remarkable and worthy of respect, not disdain. We have a lot we can learn from them and the unique insights they bring to the table. Consider Arianna Huffington, another former conservative. Look at the work she's done, the effect she's had on the conversation. I'm sure that she has detractors too, because of who she was. I'm very glad she woke up.

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Waking up is a part of the hero's journey. Every hero has to leave behind the person he or she was to become the new person who is stronger, more aware and conscious, more empowered and concerned for the rest of his or her people.

So, the next time you think about someone who used to be someone who didn't like, who used to have ideas you disagreed with, but who woke up, don't bash them. Instead, honor, appreciate and support them for their courage and newfound insight and wisdom.

 

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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