When a person takes a stand, they often receive personal attacks, whether they’re negative twitter comments, forum blasts, social network comments etc., they come in a variety of forms.
What is a Personal Attack?
When I did a quick search for a proper definition I got:
A personal attack, also known as an “ad Hominem abusive”, is committed when a person substitutes abusive remarks for evidence when attacking another person’s claim or claims
Well that answered my question and created a new one. What does ad hominem mean? Back to the internet.
According to Merriam-Webster, ad hominem means:
…appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect… …marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made…
So basically, according to the above definitions, a personal attack (ad hominem) is not really a response to what a person says, it is an attack on the person saying it.
The following would be an extreme example: a young lady asks “why do I have to sit in the back of the bus?” and the person listening responds by giving her a violent beating, leaving her on the ground with possible broken bones and internal injuries. While the majority of the time, these personal attacks, don’t get as extreme as my example above, there are many unfortunate examples in our history that were far worse.
To me, a personal attack is the core of prejudice. It lays bare the attacker’s insecurities and true feelings. It is very telling. I believe personal attacks are an admission that a person’s message is the right answer and this scares the attacker.
The disturbing part about personal attacks is that if they aren’t recognized for their prejudice, and immediately called out, they run the risk of doing permanent damage to their victims and everyone else around them.
How many children have committed suicide as a result of someone else’s prejudiced attacks? How many musicians have given up on their dreams because they listened to someone else’s hate? How many friends, acquaintances, wives, husbands, mothers, and fathers, listened to their loved ones being prejudiced with personal attacks, then did the same? How many people have been killed because others hoped the message died with the victim?
Without calling this prejudice out for what it is, everyone gives too much value to personal attacks, ignoring the message completely.
Yet, oftentimes, the message is of major importance. It needs to be said… and repeated.
I am just a man. I am no more perfect or amazing than anyone else in the world, man or woman. I am one of 7 billion people in the world. To put this in perspective, I am a grain of sand in the Mojave Desert.
We are all grains of sand.
I quoted Bruce Lee in my last article, and his message bears repeating here:
…Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one’s back…
The same can be said about a messenger. Once you get the message, the messenger is no longer important. He becomes irrelevant.
How to Move Forward:
We all have insecurities and failures that create clouds in our lives. However, this is a double-edged sword. On one hand we failed, on the other, we learned from that failure.
Allow me to provide some examples. Remember, as a child you were actively learning? You may have learned how to walk, ride a bike, not crap your pants, feed yourself, swim, read, write, talk, etc…
Reality Check: We all failed A LOT.
Are you emotionally scarred? Maybe if you crapped your pants a lot… especially if it was in public… Yet the truth of it is: you tried, you failed, you learned. Then you tried again differently and repeated the process until you figured it out. Those failures and eventual success made you stronger, able to move on to greater things.
When you encounter prejudice in the form of personal attacks, whether verbally or physically, identify it as a personal attack and remember, these people are afraid of you. They are afraid of your message.
Just continue to handle your business. Ignore the haters and know your message must be important if it inspires prejudiced personal attacks.
Bob Lewis is a married father of four, grandfather of two (so far…), who lives in Washington State. His goal is to inspire his readers to consider my words and hopefully address these issues individually through civic and public engagement. You can reach and find more of Bob’s writings at One Citizen’s Opinion