Stella Leventoyannis Harvey


“Evil is a miscellaneous collection of nasty things that nasty people do.” Richard Dawkins

This morning an image of someone I used to work with came to mind. I’ve thought of him on and off over the years, mostly when I’ve met him in others. He was a brute of a man, overbearing and opinionated. Yet exceedingly accommodating, falsely pleasant, and willing to do anything for his boss. I was his boss.

I worked in a young offender centre back then and he was one of the supervisors on the floor. Having worked in both an adult correctional facility and a young offender correctional facility, I would take the older, more hardened, over the impulsive, out of control youth any day. Occurrences of violence, hunger strikes and attempted escapes and suicide were common with young offenders. Adult offenders, in contrast, for the most part wanted to do their time and get out.

I tell you this so you understand the reality of these places. Having said this, I don’t want to give the impression that young offenders couldn’t be talked out of whatever situation they’d found themselves in.

Most of the time, they could be and that was always the best option in a place where there were more of them than there were of you.

Unlike other supervisors, this man’s first response to a situation was to show his authority: he would take off his rings, crack his knuckles, arch his back and make himself appear even bigger. When I told him his actions escalated whatever was going on, he argued his approach helped avert disaster. His way of doing things was the only way to ensure control. Of course that was not true and eventually, after several failed efforts to send him for retraining, counselling and coaching, we let him go. At this point, his threats turned towards me, but that’s another story.

I’ve been thinking of this man more as we get closer to next week’s Presidential election. I haven’t written about that election. My silence on this issue is not common, as many of you know. Part of the reason I haven’t entered the quagmire is because I remain flabbergasted that an unhinged bully like Donald Trump with no platform, but a vitriolic us-versus-them narrative, could get so far.

Another reason might be my tendency to ignore bad behaviour or worse try to understand its roots. I do this with friends, acquaintances and strangers alike. If I can just figure out why they are doing what they are doing, I might be able to help. And doesn’t everyone deserve to be understood?

Yes and no.

Besides who appointed me God? Sometimes nasty behaviour is just plain nasty.

The bottom line is you can’t help everyone and you can’t understand everyone. If you really want to help you call them out, you put them in their place. You show them you won’t be pushed around.

This is what needs to happen to Trump next week. Plain and simple.

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