My work, in writing, consulting, presenting and speaking engagements often presents the less dominant, more seemingly controversial views and I've been subject to a reasonable amount of hostility when I express them.
I have worked hard to deliver information in a way that is respectful of other views, that is evidence based and that is as minimally divisive as it can be. I do this with intent to reduce barriers and to build bridges so that people can more effectively hear a message they may not have heard before.
One of the things I discovered when researching abortion discourse for my PhD was that my 'softly, softly' approach is likely completely drowned out by the pervasiveness of dominant messaging. I traversed a very challenging period during that research when I wondered if I had wasted the previous 15 years of my career in putting out spotfires rather than actually making a difference.
I still haven't really reconciled that.
As it turned out I found myself on the 'wrong' (or right) side of the Covid discourse as well. As someone who has worked in clinical trials I questioned how quickly the new technology vaccines were being rolled out. I questioned whether locking people in their homes, separating families, closing schools or forcing people to vaccinate or lose their jobs were in the best interests of anyone.
I experienced a couple of quite shocking and hurtful breakdowns in long term collegial and friendship relationships because of my own choices. I realised that fear can bring out the absolute worst in people as they panic to save themselves from drowning in it.
The trauma of the past couple of years on top of some very traumatic events in my life, on top of years of being maligned for my work, finally took their toll.
I've spent a few months being more quiet, processing, thinking, feeling sad, wondering if depression has finally caught up with me again and whether I can be bothered dragging myself up from it.
I extricated myself from some clinical trial work, wound up the not for profit I established 15 years ago, spent time in my art and buying and enjoying a new puppy and wondered if there would be much else in my life when the world seems to be spiralling out of control.
Then in the last few days something has shifted and I wonder if it is time for a change. Is my approach of diplomacy, of being 'nice' so that I don't hurt people's feelings, or so respectful that I fail to demand such respect for myself, really going to work in today's world? Is it time for me to be more direct, more vulnerable, more honest, less worried about what people think?
A few things have happened recently. I received an email that a stranger on social media had complained about my posts to a professional body. It isn't the first time and in the past such complaints have not held up. I know I have done nothing wrong, yet I almost wonder what the point is in being so diplomatic in my approach if complaints will be made anyway.
I also realised that my own tiredness and turning inward is at least in part a response to the trauma of discrimination and loss of connectedness over the past couple of years and that this may be happening to lots of people. If we all get too tired who will be left to offer an alternative to people?
Yesterday I noted that someone employed by a football club has been making headline news for his shocking, bigoted, terrible views on homosexuality and abortion... as though his views mean he cannot possibly do a sport's job. I heard that any view dissenting from the 'abortion is an absolute right and good thing' is controversial and hateful.. oh .. and religious... and this is spoken as though it is simply a fact and I realised that the compliance of people on Covid has simply made the 'experts' in other areas more blatant and courageous in suppressing everything they don't like.
My research identified and named this process of Alarmist Gatekeeping. I know what is happening. I see the same process occurring on Covid, gender ideology, family violence, the denigration of masculinity, the hypersexualising of children and I feel helpless. Yet I also know that these things are cyclical but only if there is always a dissenting voice.
How many more people do we need to rise up and dissent to save the world from the ideological drivers that seek to destroy our families, our children, our communities? Can the few who now have a voice even be heard? Is it possible to be heard in my usual diplomatic way?
Maybe it is time for a change.