Maybe you’ve read about Harvey Weinstein lately? Apparently, he has been molesting, bullying, and harassing people in Hollywood for decades. Looks like everyone in the business was aware of the rumors, or even had first-hand knowledge and yet nothing was done to protect former, current or future victims. It’s hard to watch interviews of people in Harveys community because these people knew Harvey was a bully and yet they did nothing. It’s not just Hollywood that has this problem, and it’s not just sexual harassment.

Let’s talk about it.

First a shout out to bystanders, who see injustice and do nothing.  We have to do better, we cannot call ourselves advocates and claim to care about the relief of human suffering while sitting back and watching while our colleagues and community are being bullied, maligned, and targeted based on things like territory, ego, envy or spite. We can’t join the march, show up and pickett, vent on Facebook, fight for the minority, take a knee, demand equal rights and claim peoples LIVES MATTER while the person sitting in the chair beside us is being slandered, harassed, and sabotaged. Alone. While we look away.

We need to learn the difference between minding one’s own business and being complicit.  If we lock arms and get vocal only when it’s trendy but become silent and neutral when its inconveinant to speak up we lose our credibility.

When James and I started advocating a few years ago, we were excited to partner with an entire community of people who just wanted to serve. A community where profits and ego are replaced by the prevention of pain and the relief of human suffering.

All together now...Kum by yah

Since we started, we have offered Free Hepatitis-C Testing to several thousand folks throughout the country. All kinds of people, veterans, rural folks, the poor, men in jail, homeless, rehabs, free clinics...every group. We have never encountered one problem with our clients. Ever. No one has ever been rude, or hostile, we’ve never been stolen from or treated poorly by clients. Everyone we served has only been extremely grateful. We often get hugs of gratitude and sighs of relief or tears as a client hears their status, but never has anyone been unkind. This despite the fact that we often serve in the heart of communities known for their crime rate.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent (Thomas Jefferson)

Now from our colleagues, the business side, the nonprofit world, leaders, and other advocates, we have faced continual resistance, competition, and sabotage. Several times we have quit, only to force ourselves to focus on the objective: To Save Lives and Relieve Suffering. It’s a constant battle to remain focused.

In our first year of service James and I considered that our haters were just random people placed in our paths by chance. We considered that psychopaths are everywhere and we just happened to piss one off. Or maybe two....But then it happened again, and again, and again. We considered everything.

Maybe we had broken some sort of Hep-C Non Profit protocol.

Maybe we didn’t fit into the stereotypical Hepatitis-C advocate mold.

Maybe our efforts to engage were a bit obnoxious.

Maybe God was testing us.

Maybe we had too many doors open at once.

Maybe our passion was perceived as cockiness.

Maybe we were too Conservative... too Christian, too liberal, too permissive.

Honestly, there is likely a bit of truth to all of those maybes...But we have also learned that psychos, narcissists, and assholes gravitate towards the nonprofit world, and anywhere else they can display and promote themselves as a Savior. They are often our religious leaders, charity workers, teachers, counselors, politicians, and law enforcers.

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. (Albert Einstein)

I guess I need to make the disclaimer that I have always said we advocate for selfish reasons...because it makes us feel good. There’s a bit of narcissism in every one of us, science verifies that our brains are wired to release doses of things like cortisol, serotonin, and oxytocin when we give. It feels good to give. So even the most selfless-appearing acts often have some degree of selfish motive behind them.

So there’s my disclaimer. I’m selfish, as is everyone else who does charity work. I feel a bit guilty pointing out impure motives since my own motives are all muddy, but I am not writing about normal human pride or conceit. I am writing about something much more sinister and harmful. I’m talking about the kind of people who are intentionally evil to promote themselves. These people often get away with their predatory behavior because they are canny enough to do their predation in subtle and plausibly deniable ways.

Because they choose victims they believe or know to be weak or not-connected.

Because we feel it’s none of our business.

Because a part of us that is happy to see a victim oppressed, after all, that’s more funding, and glory for me!

Because we don’t want to be perceived as a troublemaker.

Because we hate drama.

Because we don’t know enough to make a judgment.

Because we rely heavily on companies for funding and feel those relationships are more important than justice.

Because calling out a bully often makes us a target of the bully.

I really appreciate all of these reasons to not engage in peripheral theatrics. I myself have learned it’s usually best to just allow things to play out. I’ve taught my kids about the code word LIPO. It stands for Let It Play Out, we whisper it to each other when the drama just ain’t worth the interference, and that is most of the time....  I don’t respect people who are too eager to fix things, take sides or have a public opinion. And yet there comes a time when our silence makes us culpable.

Every social injustice is not only cruel, but it is economic waste (William Feather)

Standing up and protecting others, while pointing out evil is risky. No doubt. It takes courage to expose hate. This is true, and yet we can’t allow our fears to dictate our moral obligations. If someone deliberately preys on vulnerable members of our community and continues to do so after they’ve been caught, surely they forfeit the right to be a part of the community?  If we see this and allow it we are choosing comfort over the safety of advocates, over the truth, over the suffering and death of the very people we claim to love and serve. Screw that!

James and I have given alot of thought as to what our criteria is for taking action against bullying:

Does this bully hurt people other than us?

We can and should take alot of flack, without a word, but when it affects others, a whole community, people who are already marginalized, forgotten, sick and rejected? We have an obligation to protect others, especially in the Hep-C community. Especially if we are going to call ourselves advocates.

Did/Does the Bully cost lives? Will they continue to cause suffering and death? Literally, when a person preoccupies and sabotages an advocate, colleague, or associate, that is one less phone call placed, one less test administered, one less post shared, one less meeting attended, one less grant approved. It literally costs lives when we allow a bully to thwart the work of people who are serving in a community that doesn’t have one resource to spare.

Will this Bully Stop without a determined effort? Most bullies eventually tire of the drama, feel ashamed or simply change targets, and then there are a very few who are only emboldened by drama, have no shame, and determine to win NO MATTER WHAT. They will never quit, so it’s up to the community to quit allowing them to remain.

Was the bully intentional in her efforts to sabotage? For instance, it’s one thing to lie to get yourself out of trouble but it’s a whole nother ball game to lie to get someone IN trouble. Some people are selfish, egotistical, and divisive but not really evil. There is a difference. Alot of people can thwart progress just by being themselves, but it’s a different kind of evil for a person to plan, scheme, strategize, and execute plans just to sabotage others, and elevate themselves.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends (Martin Luther King Jr)

Unfortunately, psychopaths are usually running things. See, normal human behavior is dictated by feelings, and emotions, psychos don’t have normal feelings. Therefore they have no moral compass, they only have a keen sense of how everyone will react to their behavior, whether good or bad. So they plan accordingly. This is called strategic manipulation. They play life chess, while we curl up and cry. How can we consider our next move, or the next 3 moves, when we are enjoying or despairing from the day’s events? We can’t. Most of our life is spent in conversations, relationships, and emotions. If we aren’t involved in one, we are the other,…usually, we are doing all 3 at once. Allowing our feelings to dictate our conversations with people we are in a relationship with. But psychos don’t have real relationships, emotions or conversations, only goals, objectives, and ploys for power...that is why they win every time. See how that gives them the advantage? While we spend all our time living, talking and feeling like a human, they are strategically planning the next 4 moves that will promote them and sabotage the perceived competition.

It takes a village to raise a child, and it also takes a village to allow the abuse of one (Unknown)

Bullying is a hideous epidemic. Workplace bullying destroys lives, not only the lives of victims but also the lives of patients.Nonprofit organizations are not exempt from the toll of this workplace hazard.

Unfortunately, there’s much more to workplace bullying than merely the obvious stuff. Bullying at work isn’t all about psychopaths, yelling, slander and defamation. It’s usually more subtle. Things like purposeful exclusion from team meetings/activities, holding private meetings where only certain people are included, consistently taking credit for other peoples work, sabotaging your advocacy with lies, manipulation, and drama, purposely withholding information from you, and spreading false rumors and gossiping.

We of all people HAVE TO DO BETTER. We aren’t crunching numbers or ringing up candy, we are in the urgent business of saving lives, relieving suffering and healing communities. 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere (Martin Luther King Jr)

According to a recent U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, 65 million U.S. workers are affected by workplace bullying. That’s equivalent to the combined population of 15 U.S. states. In a separate study, 71% of the respondents who were bullied at work were treated by a physician for work-related symptoms. 63% of workplace bullying victims saw a mental health professional for their work-related symptoms. Some of these symptoms included hypertension, sleeplessness, ulcers, severe mood swings, debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, clinical depression, migraine headaches, relapse of previously controlled addictions, even post-traumatic stress disorder.

What the hell? How can we possibly save lives, when our own lives are falling apart because our community is too weak to defend us against predators? Or maybe our community is made up of mostly predators and needs to be revamped?

Real love cannot be silent in the face of injustice.