Loved this (and your musings in general). One point you made at the end is particularly cogent for me: “Someone saw the opportunity to engage me. She talked to me kindly and openly. She helped me (…)”. I see my fellow SJWs (not sure if that’s meant to be a pejorative term, but hell, I like it!) fighting the good fight against the trolls of the internet and observe the various ways they go about it — some go the sarcastic “racist very much?!” route, others fight a protracted battle to defeat ignorance through long, emotionally-infused lectures and then (understandably) become increasing irritated when their thoughtfulness fails to have the desired effects… some get really personal and allow the trolling to hijack their personal zen. But do any of these methods really stamp out ignorance? Or do they just make us SJWs more frustrated and downcast?
When your view was limited by privilege, might you have reacted differently if this wonderful lady had been dismissive of your words, openly typecasted you, or used sarcasm or anger to explain how “wrong” you were? My guess is that her kindness opened the door to your curiosity and understanding. And of course it probably helps that you’re a healthy, open-minded person to begin with.
It’s not easy being kind to someone who is actively trolling you…but stepping back from the immediate emotional response, I often end up feeling a sense of pity for them… which sometimes leads to compassion, and other times… leads to deciding not to feed the trolls (or my anger) and trying to find other, more proactive ways to continue fighting for social justice (supporting local community programs, working to get out the vote, volunteering, etc.). As trite as it sounds, love and compassion seem like the best antidotes to hate and anger… and for those who are unmoved by the former treatment… they’ll always exist in any society unfortunately, but we can work around them.
Just my 2 cents ☺ Very appreciative of a thought-provoking read!