Another Transitional Moment
Allison Washington

Yuck- your boss was a clone of Trump- intuiting where he could take advantage of fear, confusion, a moment’s misunderstanding… and build his sense of personal power. The power of this kind of bully is cheaply bought, for the target is always someone who will not fight back, someone who values and practices being kind, giving the benefit of the doubt, and tolerating impositions. It is an ugly irony, that repelling an attack requires the victim to instantly adopt a different interpersonal stance, and that feels too difficult, like changing into someone else. Only a moment’s hesitation is enough for the walls to be breached.

I learned something that might help from dealing with facility emergencies like windstorms or flooding. Being unprepared mentally for the complex calculations required, I felt like I was sleepwalking and unable to think even at normal speed in the face of the multiple threats. Damage costs rose with every minute I couldn’t bring some kind of order to my thinking, and prioritize effective response. I thought I was a defective manager, but I was only unprepared.

The next week I sat down and storyboarded the storm, rewriting history the way I should have liked it to be. Then I extended this to other predictable challenges. In the tranquility of my office I could easily analyze the lessons learned and imaginatively think through new and different threats, and the practical responses and priorities that would most effectively minimize the damage and protect my community. I now had words for everything- and patterns, and clear pathways in my mind that, when the next emergency occurred, I effortlessly called on to provide an effective response. I was amazed at the difference, and the simple value of planning ahead.

The frequency of bullying and sexual abuse is high, and thanks to Trump people everywhere are revealing these private experiences of hell. It is long overdue, and we clearly need to train all our children to identify these threats and the available options, and to react immediately.

The subtleties of the psychological conflict between being a ‘nice’ person and defending oneself with measured force need to be made explicit in order to become manageable. An effective defense is at times not achievable, so preplanning for minimizing loss, and preparing psychologically for loss, is crucial.

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