Hacking Powerful People: Inspiration from Meryl Streep

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Meryl Streep is right. We must push back against those who exert power over the powerless. We must model empathy, even when our leaders do not. We must encourage those who have big voices to speak loudly against what’s wrong and in favor of what’s right.

Streep, the three-time Oscar-winning actress condemned the actions of a man she chose not to name and who shall remain nameless here.

During her acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement award at the Golden Globes, Streep stood as tall as ever, as she set her sights on the most powerful man in the world and fired back like no one has since the 2016 presidential election. Here’s what she said:

It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter — someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back — it kind of broke my heart…. This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

Hacking Powerful People

I have remained silent for too long, but now I’m inspired by the brilliant and eloquent Meryl Streep. Not only will I reply publicly on social media to, as Streep puts it, “the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country,” but I will share ways to defeat him and those like him regularly on other public platforms.

Like Streep, I encourage you to do the same and to stand against the bullies in power and make them know that we are not going away. And teach our kids to do the same.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

1 — Acknowledge the problem: When the most powerful man in the world — the man who will soon reside in the White House — hurts people who are powerless to fight back, we must acknowledge this atrocity boldly and loudly.

It’s not okay to sit idly by and ignore bullies, racists, and misogynists. As parents and educators, we must explain to kids how inappropriate the behavior is, no matter where it comes from.

2 — Face the oppressors on their own playground: If powerful people employ Twitter and other social channels to amplify their egregious actions, we must meet them there and push back in a dignified manner. Rather than composing hateful posts on your social channels, expose the wrongdoer and his acts and remind people to do all they can to spark change.

There are numerous streams and accounts to follow on Twitter that inspire activists to speak up.


3 — Recruit the strong to help: We teach students to stand up for the weak — to defend those who can’t defend themselves. If your voice isn’t enough, then find others with larger audiences to help you shine a bright light on every horrible thing our more powerful oppressors say and do.

Ask your friend or colleague who has a large Twitter following or a popular Facebook page to post about the dangers of people in the White House bullying others.

Hack Learning

Remember, Hack Learning isn’t just about books for educators or podcast episodes about edtech, homework, reading, or leadership. Hack Learning is about solving problems with logical, practical strategies.

There is nothing more logical than telling hateful leaders that their hate is not making us better. It’s only creating more hate.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post and podcast episode do not necessarily represent the opinions of other Hack Learning Team members and employees of Times 10 Publications.

Featured photo credit: Glyn Lowe Photoworks. Meryl Streep – Berlin Berlinale 66 via photopin (license)

Author: Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is the Founder and CEO of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series — books that provide right-now solutions for teachers and learners. Mark is the author or publisher of dozens of books, including Bestseller Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Join more than 115,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.