Q: Is it possible to get people to drop defensive as their first line of response?

A: Nah.


Just kidding, but after writing and re writing this answer….I don’t think so, Inquirer.

Defense as the first line of response to anything, be it criticism, ridicule, violence are indicative of our survival mechanisms. That said, I don’t want this to be seen as some kind of nature vs nurture issue.

The truth is, our social structure is built on the deflection of blame and accountability. This leaves us completely null of any coping skills when required to find blame in one’s self and account for our actions. We therefore see those things as forms of violence we must survive. Even if it’s justified…

Sure you can change yourself or your approach in order to solicit different reactions from people, but that will only go so far when it comes to the deadly 3:


Faith
Morals
Politics


Watch a light hearted discussion turn to these avenues…You will see someone catching feelings. Whether it be a defensive reaction to opposition or  self victimization, it’s almost guaranteed because we hold these three things as core identifiers to our humanity. They aren’t the only things, obviously but for the sake of my argument they seem to be the most common. It’s almost as bad or rude to point out an offender’s offense or the contradiction or fallacies in another’s opinions and this type of behavior supports so many negative culture attributes as a whole. Mixed with a strong attraction to group-think environments and social settings, we can only break certain cycles to see a social change of such magnitude as getting people to be less defensive. They have to feel non threatened. Imagine that world!

Perhaps in radical spaces this type of stuff is being examined by intellectuals and theorists but in most shared spaces, there is an unwritten rule surrounding our etiquette when confronting or opposing another’s viewpoints. Socially we are conditioned to seek out hive mind mentality so any opposition is a threat to us as individuals.

So as long as we continue perpetuating the same cultural customs and values that support us being afraid and or intolerant of what we do not personally experience (blackness, queerness and other various forms of Identity that are systemically oppressed), we sustain a defense first response to anything in opposition or contradiction with those ideologies.


So, Is it possible to get people to drop defensive as their first line of response?

It's not realistic. It's just not realistic.


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