Ghandi Lives

A great Help-U-Sell person, Tiffany Guerin from Oregon, shared a video on Facebook today that really touched me.  It was a segment from the ABC show, ‘What Would You Do?’

‘What Would You Do?’ is a reality television program.  It puts actors (in secret) in public places and has them behave badly, usually unethically or hatefully.  The point of the program is to show how real people around the situation react.  Sometimes there is no reaction and sometimes there are bad reactions, but usually common people stand up against the bad behavior.  It is an affirming show in that way:  it gives everyday people the opportunity to be their best in the face of wrong.

The segment Tiffany posted involved a pretty much all-Black barber shop in Harlem and the ‘customer’ (an actor) who comes in with his White girlfriend. One of the cutters – also an actress – makes hurtful, racist comments.  As you might imagine, people react.  They get angry.  They confront the bad behavior.  They take the wicked hair cutter to task, which is what most anyone would likely do.

But then, this . . . angel appears.  She is a customer, sitting in a chair getting her hair cut.  She hears the hateful rant and involves herself.  But her tone is completely different.  She comes at it from a place of love, not just for the victim of the wrong but for the perpetrator as well.  She never stops smiling as she speaks softly and powerfully to not only stop the situation but reverse it with an apology and a hug.

I had forgotten that we don’t have to bluster and rage in the face of evil.  That seems to be our dominant style today.  (Of course, I blame Jerry Springer.  He taught us that whoever yells loudest wins.)

If we start with a solid belief that people are generally good at heart and that bad behavior is often only a symptom of injury . . .   well, I could wax poetic about that.  But instead, I think I’ll just post the clip.  The whole clip is good and what comes early sets up the extraordinary response of this angel (Marsha R. Bonner).  She doesn’t appear until about the 5:30 mark.  I think her style – her approach to conflict – ought to be studied in high schools and colleges.  Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Ghandi Lives”

    1. aww, Thanks, Mary. But in this case it’s not me that’s rockin’. I hope I can remember this lesson next time I’m confronted with ignorance or malice.

  1. Hello James. This is Marsha R. Bonner. I just wanted to take this moment to Thank You for your kind words about my hidden camera appearance on “What Would You Do?” I am truly humbled by your insightful reflection about the scenario and my response to the situation. Yes, indeed, I too strongly believe that “If we start with a solid belief that people are generally good at heart and that bad behavior is often only a symptom of injury” – Allow me to add my two cents: “then we can begin to approach others with an understanding tone as opposed to one that imposes more pain.” This is how I choose to LIVE!! Again, Thank You for allowing me to be a part of your LIFE today!! Much Love, My Brother. Marsha aka MarshaHUGS

    1. Humbled and honored (I am): you have something very special. No: you ARE someone very special. Thanks.

  2. I think Marsha’s gift here is the lesson for us, the people of the world. From the lowest class tenement to the tallest penthouse, everyone can learn the HUGS message. Lift up together, move forward together … Thank you Marsha!

  3. Cliff Notes:
    1. She immediately dignifies the other person (not the behavior): “I hear you.”
    2. She casts herself in the same boat as the other person and then describes it positively: “We Embrace.”
    3. She reminds the other person of her essential goodness: “Where’s that caring and loving heart?” (I know you have one)
    4. She creates a scenario in which that loving heart can emerge: “If she was laying in the street bleeding, would you help her?”

    Everything up to this point has been ‘Un-freezing’ – getting the other person to drop her defenses and preparing her to think about her actions. You have to do this before you have a significant conversation with almost anyone.

    5. She takes the hateful generalization and makes it personal: “That has nothing to do with her.”
    6. She brings the target of the bad behavior into the boat with her, the perp and all humanity: “Let’s try to rise together.”
    7. By now the ‘bad’ person has returned to reality: she realizes she was way out of line, and she doesn’t know how to get beyond it. Marsha shows her how: “She’s going to go over there and shake that young lady’s hand.”
    8. Knowing that the transformation is fragile, she physically causes its completion. She rises and initiates the tearful H.U.G.S.

    Unfreeze – put everyone in the same boat – remind all that our greater task is to be positive and to love one another. Our boat is on a stormy sea and we need each other to make it through.

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