This week I was in in Martin doing Green Dot training. Honestly, I wasn't really looking forward to it. I'm away from my wife and kids and it's a week out of my summer. I know that Green Dot's mission to prevent personal violence is a good one, but what could I really do?
It's crazy how I played directly into their hands.
Before coming, it seemed like a program. I don't really like programs. Programs are zombies: thoughtless, moving only under momentum, slowly, and certainly dangerous in their unfeeling mass. Unfortunately, people act in groups, and if we can emphasize the personal relationships we all have, we can help.
Green Dot focuses on proactive things, not reactive--healing the wounded is good, but preventing wounds is better. Along those lines, Green Dot hinges on two things. First, it doesn't ask us to identify as a potential victim in need of defense or a potential aggressor in need of restraint, but a bystander who needs to act. It's easier to identify as a bystander than either of the other groups, so it's easier to prepare to act before an emergent situation. Next, Green Dot emphasized the dilemma of a bystander's action/inaction, excluding any middle neutral path. We don't all do the best, but, as Yoda says, we do or do not, although in this case trying is rounded up, not down.
It's a program, yeah. It has a brand--it even has a logo, the eponymous Green Dot. But it focuses on on action more than "activism"; us ourselves rather than "community." I was afraid of a program that focused on keeping women from getting hurt and keeping men from doing horrible things. I discovered a conversation about how bad things happen to all sorts of people, but primarily how all sorts of people can help each other stay safe--most directly, it's about how we protect other people.
We good people outnumber the bad people, and the only way to stop bad actions is to replace them with good actions--interpersonal violence hurts too many people, so we the majority needs to act in each other's lives, to help each other out, even to look out for chances to help.