Yesterday I was attacked by a troll. I was not under a bridge, nor was I performing in a stage adaptation of a children's fairy tale, or daydreaming in a parallel universe. I was at my desk and I was chatting online in an internet forum. A forum troll is a person who posts a message that is intended to upset, disrupt or insult a person or group. It took me by complete surprise, because I live in a state of awareness where violence is rarely able to find a toe-hold around me.
I happened to be engaged in a discussion about the degradation of the nutritional value in our food sources including contamination, and bio-engineered and genticaly-altered products and concerns about health risks associated with processed and fast foods. These are subjects that interest me and as many of you know, I work with several global projects which focus on education, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture.
Whamm! I won't repeat the name calling and barrage of insults that were flung at me, and at the group in general by the troll. It's simply not important. But what is important is that it got me thinking. I did some research. And, I ended up sending love, not only to the troll, but to the world. I remembered this quote:
"In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher."- the Dali Llama
I would guess that most trolls are feeling weak, sad, perhaps living lonely lives. Disrupting a group, or a community, gives the illusion of power. Like a needy child, for a troll, any response is recognition, and they are most likely unable to distinguish between irritation and admiration; their ego grows directly in proportion to the response, regardless of the form or content of that response. Trolls, although they would never admit it, are looking for love.
As the mother of three grown boys, I learned many years ago that the only way to stop negative attention seeking behavior is to ignore it. And so, I disengaged from the conversation immediately. But I also know that this behavior often happens because someone is feeling neglected or unimportant.
So, I made a donation Heifer. Heifer builds sustainable communities. They've developed a set of global initiatives – areas of emphasis that must be addressed if we’re to meet our mission of ending world hunger and poverty and caring for the earth. They serve those often neglected or deemed unimportant in the world of commerce and capitalism.
From their website, here is a list of the projects that my donation will support:
In a world where land is overused, community members need to learn how to protect and rejuvenate their land, water and other natural resources. Heifer helps by teaching environmentally sound agricultural techniques.
Before any Heifer animal is passed along to a project partner, Heifer trains the new recipient in animal management, using Animal Welfare Guidelines.
In Heifer's view, gender equity is a social justice and human rights issue that directly leads to ending hunger and poverty.
Today, we as a world community, confront AIDS, a virus that in the past 25 years has either infected or killed over 64 million people. It is not only a health issue, as it fractures every sector of society, and for Heifer, it is a prominent concern in the arena of sustainable development. This is why Heifer is incorporating HIV/AIDS education in our community training groups.
Heifer provides both "no-interest living loans" in the form of livestock, as well as small monetary loans to help people start and expand businesses that yield big benefits for families.
Heifer is reconnecting city-dwellers with their food sources, building strong alliances and instilling an entrepreneurial spirit among adults and youth through our Urban Agriculture projects.
As I said, I imagine this troll behavior happens when one is feeling neglected or unimportant. Well, my troll, you are important! By forgetting who you truly are, you helped me to remember who I truly am. Every once in a while I guess I need a catalyst to get moving and engage in projects in which I can open to love, compassion, and forgiveness in new ways. So, I thank you for your kindness.
As the Dalai Llama teaches,"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. "