I’m never going to punch an actual Nazi. I’m not strong enough, or violent enough. I like to imagine that if it came to it, I would put myself bodily in the way, but that’s about all I can do.
My inner Nazi is a whole other issue. It’s taken a while to recognise and acknowledge him, but there he is, inside my head and sorely in need of punching. In recent weeks I’ve realised that I’m not the only person with an inner Nazi, and that those other ones urgently need punching too.
The inner Nazi says that your right to live is conditional on being good enough, doing enough, being useful, productive… I wouldn’t measure anyone else by those standards because while I live with the inner Nazi, I am not a Nazi myself. I don’t think anyone’s right to life has anything to do with anything except their being alive in the first place. My only exception is me.
I watch friends with mental health problems beating themselves up for not being good enough, useful enough, not earning enough money. As though these things are the measure of a person. As though worth could be something other than intrinsic. The right to live is not something we should feel we have to earn.
I’ve found that identifying him as my inner Nazi has helped me shout him down when he kicks off. I feel more confident about coming back with the kind of verbal abuse I think that kind of outlook merits. I will punch the inner Nazi until he shuts up. I will punch him down every time he surfaces inside my head. I will keep punching him until he dies, because it’s the right thing to do in this context, and I will get out there and see what I can do to help with the punching of other inner Nazis.
And if you find you’ve got an inner Nazi who does impact on how you view and treat other people, definitely punch that one as well. Destroying bigotry, hate, oppression and intolerance is something we have to do within ourselves, and that calls for self-scrutiny and a willingness to evict anything that isn’t part of who we want to be.