How To Become Radicalized in Ten Easy Steps

f43d2d05a50cf51b2282509fca7df12aStep 1

The slow realization that something about you is considered not as good as, seen as less than. Even though you don’t feel less than, everything you read and see and hear, watch and listen to, screams and whispers it to your heart.

Step 2

The dissonance of questioning and doubting your own experiences. Making excuses for patronizing behavior, shushing. The strange discomfort of being patted on the head like a good, happy dog because everything you are seeing tells you that you are supposed to expect it and enjoy it–even though it makes your soul prickle. Denying your own emotions. Believing them when they tell you it will be fine, as long as you follow the rules.

Here is the list of rules. There are a million of them. They cover how to dress and talk and walk and act. They cover what not to do, how to do it, how to please, how to avoid displeasing. In between the lines it tells you how to keep your head down like a dog.

Step 3

Follow a million rules to the letter and wait for a validation which never comes.

Oh look, here are a million more rules. Come back later.

Step 4

Attack the rules with education and knowledge. Study the problem from a historical perspective. Immerse yourself in theory. Learn about the sociology and the psychology, the economics. The art and literature. Endure endless mocking and judgement for studying something invalid, some phantom, as if oppression and ghost hunting were Siamese twins.

Step 5

Surround yourself with like-minded individuals to stockpile comfort and succor. Armed with others like you, you bask in conviction. You are tackling age-old issues, but from a new angle, one which will work this time. It has to work this time. How can it not?

Step 6

Advance, retreat, advance. Repeatedly absorb and move on. Cling to the hope Pandora shut in her box despite being continually and perpetually let down. Learn to swallow the bitterness of betrayal–not only by those holding you back, but those who should be on your side as well.

Step 7

Realize everything you’ve done, have studied for, have worked toward has achieved absolutely nothing. Out of two million rules, you are at #67. They’ve rewritten them when you were not looking.

Step 8

Allow yourself to feel anger. Stop explaining. Cease apologizing. Begin actively demanding and agitating. Surround yourself in an echo-chamber of those who believe in the same things you do, who nod and agree and encourage.

Step 9

Accept your goals, once so attainable seeming–will never be reached peacefully, with logic or reason, with discourse or compromise. Shift focus from demanding acknowledgement and equality to plotting revenge and seeking payback.

Step 10

Jettison anyone who doesn’t fit your narrative. Escalate the rhetoric. Cocoon yourself in righteousness and anger. Hone in on the enemy. There is no longer a ‘we’, but an us. And a them.

Congratulations. You’re radicalized.


Years of living in this woman’s body, where compromise is not only a natural way of living, but a necessary tool of survival, has given me an awareness and understanding of my mind and psyche. I know the map of my heart. Lots of therapy and a liberal dosage of Prozac over the years have helped as well. So when I feel the quiver of rage that shakes my very bones, I know I must be careful not to let it tip the scale to hate.

And right now, it is very, very close.

I am fortunate to have friends who are open enough and enlightened enough to have begun the healing. I am not there yet. I am not sure when I will be. Maybe tomorrow, I keep saying to them when they ask. Maybe tomorrow. Though it may be four years of tomorrows, or eight, or a forever full of them.

I know that feeding the flames of rage long-term will consume me. It will consume my soul and my writing, my family, my friendships, my life. And so I must let those flames die out eventually. Whether it burns itself out one time or I must put it out myself, what walks out of the funeral pyre on the other side will be a changed version of myself. A Phoenix. A woman formed in the ash heap of disappointment and despair, of rage and whatever borders on the thin line of hate. The question remains if it will be a constant struggle to tame the rage, to direct it instead, into something resembling determination and focus. Today, I don’t know the answer.

I understand now how easy it is to lose faith so completely in a system which has continually let you down. I understand how easy it would be to turn to an all-consuming darkness. It is hot enough in there to melt your very bones–but it feels good–like a dark sunshine burning in your blood. I understand now the desire to burn, the desire to exact revenge. To take. That desire is delicious on your tongue, though I know it will turn bitter soon enough.

I understand the appeal. 73623-phoenix-rising-from-ashes-quotes

It frightens me that I do, yet at the same time, I’m glad.

Facing some sort of darkness and making the choice to walk away is its own kind of power. Another one I will add to the notch on my witch’s belt. Ultimately I will do that. I will walk away.

But not today. Maybe tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. emzmommie02 says:

    After a week of grieving and soul searching I have decided to be angry and work with in the system. I will use my entitlement and not live in fear of speaking my mind. I will not bow my head and look away any longer to keep the peace. How will I accomplish this? Daily, through conversations, either by asking questions. “Really why would you expect that from your daughter but not your son?” Every time someone says boys will be boys I will explain that they are just raising assholes. Society shouldn’t have 2 sets of rules for girls and boys. Also I am looking to find a group to volunteer at to help find and support candidates for 2018 House of representatives and Senate. I am a SAHM. I am lucky to be educated and well off enough to have this. but I am pissed, and afraid. I will channel my Mama bear instincts an fight for a better world for my child. Spatula drop Mama out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Yes. In my heart I know that I’ve been fighting this same fight for 20 years. What’s four more? Or even eight? Or even forever. Please keep it up. Please. I can’t do this alone and you can’t do it alone. I thought maybe we could do it together but it appears not yet. Maybe tomorrow, right?


  2. Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I’m a 60 year old privileged white dreamer who’s lived most of her live in a bubble. It fell apart this week. I’ve seen horrible comments from people I loved. I’ve seen former students who contacted me sobbing and fearful. I’ve seen other students laughing at the pain expressed by non-whites and anyone different. I’ve seen a man elected as president who doesn’t deserve the office and a courageous woman who has spent her life in public service vilified. I’m doing everything I can to mitigate any damage this worm and his cronies will do. I’m using my checkbook to donate, volunteering at Planned Parenthood, telling my LGBT students I will march with them and hold their hands. So yes, I’m radicalized, trying not to hate, but that line is slipping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Well, as much as I wouldn’t wish this level of rage on anyone, it’s good to know I’m not alone in these feelings. I think, truly, that the rage is actually buffering my heart against the grief–and I haven’t teased out what exactly I’m grieving for just yet. Lots of things, I think. Sometimes I think if I give in to that (and it would be so very, very easy to give in) then I am no better than those who are reveling in hate on the other side. But there are times I am willing to make that sacrifice.


  3. It feels like it’s going to be a long road and the glee that the Trump supporters are spouting makes it feel worse. It sucks. I’m sorry.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      Thanks. You don’t need to apologize. I think this will be an interesting exercise for me in the end. How close can you get to giving yourself over to the forces of hate without losing yourself completely? Where’s the line between Jedi Knight and Darth Vader. Is it one thing? A million things? I expect it will be a long journey.


  4. aviets says:

    I’m in that same space, right alongside you. I lived in denial and intense depression all week. Just yesterday I started looking at FB, but I’m still isolating myself from all news outlets. Except I accidentally saw a news piece while at a store yesterday, with a photo of Trump and a caption that included the words “President-Elect Trump.” Quite literally my stomach lurched and I got chills.

    The one thing that started pulling me out of my despair yesterday was my daughter in Baltimore inviting me to join her for the Million Woman March in January. I’m making plans to drive the 17 hours with a group of women from this red state for the event.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dina Honour says:

      You know, I’ve been meaning to check in with you to see how you were doing. It’s hard. Kick in the teeth and ribs and gut hard. You should absolutely go to the march. I was even thinking about looking to see if I could get an inexpensive flight home, but alas, my husband is away that weekend. The cogs and wheels in my head right now are stuck in rage mode. But I’ve been loosening them with liberal amounts of alcohol. Once they’re warmed up, I’ve got some ideas. I just have to organize.


  5. Elyse says:

    I think we can all take a page from Donald Trump — his philosophy of revenge.

    We will get them back ten times over and it will be sweet. Because we will do it without hatred. And I’m gonna get going on it just as soon as I stop vomiting.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      Yeah…see, it’s that whole “do it without hatred” thing that’s giving me pause. Contrition? Can we ask for contrition at least?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Elyse says:

        Lack of hatred and vitriol on THEIR part, perhaps????

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I will defend my family, my friends, strangers, myself from hate. I will work for peace, but only the peace of justice, not of total submission. I will retain hope for the future, however long into time that requires.

    If the biggest problem is that the man elected has no class, no manners, no knowledge, and no sense, and that his wife formerly posed nude for magazines, and that his elder sons sound like Nazis, we can get through this. Embarrassed, stripped of dignity, but yes, we’ll get through. My concern of course is that this is not the biggest problem.


    1. Dina Honour says:

      I think those things are probably the least of our problems, Melanie. That’s garden variety shit. We deal with crassness every day of our lives. We deal with rudeness, mannerless, and to be honest, Melania’s nude photo shoot is 2016’s answer to 1992’s cookie scandal, it’s woman shaming yet again and really, who cares?

      I’m not worried about the dignity. I don’t think you are either. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. At least with garden variety shit, you can make flowers grow in the spring.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes I know this feeling and mental spot to be at very well. We must all continue the path of what is right regardless of all the negative around.


  8. Life is a bit of a random walk. Some things happen for a reason. Other things happen, just because. The USA electorate just had a major emotional tantrum. There’s no other way to describe it. So now you have a 5-year old emotional mind in a 70-year old body. While we’ve had that before, we never gave such a person the control over the world’s largest military or the world’s best domestic spy network. The USA has rolled the dice. The shoe has dropped. And we’re waiting to see what happens when the second one follows it.


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