I do not profess to be a therapist, preacher or politician. I’m just a human being who has seen a lot of garbage, personally and professionally, during the decades I’ve been a resident on this planet we all call home.
Now that the obligatory disclaimer has been typed we can move on…
Some of the things I have seen, heard and been personally subjected to range from outright abuse to reaffirming joy. I have been shown that some people can and will do the right thing but, I also know that there are many people who have no intention of ever getting along, letting bygones be bygones or accepting that not everyone out there wants to be just like them. It’s a fact. We all aren’t the same but we ALL have the ability to not take it personally when “friend” 1,089, on any number of our many social media accounts, espouses different political, religious or even socially based beliefs from us. This goes for every other random person you may encounter in life as well.
It isn’t a personal affront to you when Billy or Susie, each of whom having a mind of their own just like you, decide to go down a different path of thinking. How exactly does this personally harm you? Are they coming into your home and demanding that you believe the way they do? And, if you say that they are just because they post it online and you happen to have your computer on then welcome to the wild, wild world of self-imposed Butt-Hurt. Billy and Susie can’t magically turn your computer on in your own home, you have control over that. They also can’t force you to read what they have to say, you have fingers that can click “unfollow” at any time or even “unfriend” or “delete” which is amazing freedom right?
Now, I do ask though, what is so bad about hearing opposing ideas and beliefs? I have always been a firm believer in the adage that in order to be well-informed one must be able to view an issue from all sides…not just our own. Everything, even a plain old piece of paper, has more than one side. You may think your side is prettier and the best darn side ever but there will always be someone who prefers the opposite and…that’s okay….it won’t kill you…because it’s just an idea or belief that resides within the heart and mind of its possessor.
But, and I was ready for this one, what if that belief is taken out of the internal realm and action is added? Bad action like physical, catastrophic violence? This has been happening for thousands of years. While I wish I had a definite answer for how to stop this immediately… I do not. And, the only people who can say when enough is enough are the ones advocating hate and violence in order to force their point(s) of view. Logic would dictate that “enough” is when they are absolutely in control and this could also mean when everyone is forced to state they agree with a particular mandate, law or edict, even when they don’t, out of fear of imprisonment, personal injury or death. This is happening now and has been happening for as long as I, my grandparents or great-grandparents have been here and on and on up the family tree to infinity. It isn’t new news.
This opinion piece is not intended to validate one side over another it is merely a stream of consciousness by which I choose to release my thoughts, ask a few questions and get some ideas from those different from me. Because, after all, how are we ever supposed to exist together if we don’t even know just a little bit about one another? I do want to stress that I have no patience for nastiness and response baiting trolls so argue away in the comments section if you like but I will not respond. I will however put you in my next work of fiction and make you do things that would cause your real-life head to explode so be warned. How do you think writers get material after all?
So, what DO we really know about one another? I know that I am not you and you aren’t me and quite frankly I think that is a great place to start. My thoughts, beliefs and ideas belong to me and were originally shaped by personal experiences gathered along my life’s path. Are they rigid in nature? Some are and some are not. I will give you an example:
Flexible: My ability to consider different points of view. I may not know I can agree or disagree until I am provided with the proper evidence for why I should or shouldn’t agree.
Rigid: My belief that I should not be shouted down, spoken to with disrespect or harmed simply because of my gender, age, race, sexual orientation or personal ideology.
On that last point I have received some flak from those who feel I should simply stay quiet and do as controlling powers in the Middle Ages (and earlier) dictated but, you know what? That didn’t fly with everyone then and it still doesn’t so I will simply take it for what it is; a weak attempt to control with no real power behind it. Because, we all know that just because someone yells louder than everyone else it doesn’t mean that their message makes any sense or should be followed. It’s just noise and the great thing about noise is that if it’s ignored long enough it just becomes a background hum that we learn to tune out while continuing to move forward.
Now, to address what makes people follow. That one is simple! One of two things, fear or allegiance and sometimes those two become intertwined. Some people fear that the things they love the most will be taken from them. I won’t say what those “things” could be because I am wise enough to know that many, many people already have a long scroll of things they can drop right into the slot so have at it! But, the one thing no one has been mentioning, publically anyway, is apathy. We can’t change the world, some say, so why bother? And, in that same vein, if we never change lightbulbs that have blown out then we will always be in the dark. People stumble and fall in the dark just like they stumble and fall over misinformation and bias in broad daylight. Change is the best policy when falling down the stairs or a well of tabloid babble is the alternative. Get the facts, get all sides and get a new lightbulb!
In this current atmosphere of mistrust, lies and blatant hate, and it really isn’t anything other than that so let’s not try to paint it up and put nice clothes on it, we can only continue BEING. That may sound all wishy-washy but hear me out. If fear is allowed to keep people from being themselves then who wins? Sure, for the time being those who hide are keep safe but eventually the hate that was allowed in begins to build and fester. And, when we stop being ourselves, paranoia sets in, over-reactions occur and the sickness of division spreads. Who do you work for? What is your purpose here? When did we all become so miserable and unfree???? Fear did that to us and we allowed it to happen and the sellers of hate were counting on it. They probably even had odds set on some event wager line in Las Vegas. Bravo assholes!
What do we do now? I’m only one person but I will continue saying this over and over until someone else hears it and passes it on, “Stop letting the sellers of fear win!” We are better than this America. Kindness isn’t weakness and here is a novel thought, how about we start by being kind to one another, see how THAT goes and then spread it out to like-minded countries around us? A WHOLE national functions better than a divided one and, better yet, a UNIFIED but respectful of differences type nation scares the hell out of those that wish to control us. “Damn! These Americans finally have their shit together and can’t be scared into lashing out at one another to the point of being so broken down that we can just swoop in and take over!” Life is pretty simple after all….and it is WE who choose to make it hard. Choose better, choose wiser and in the end nothing else matters.