Every single day we are bombarded with images on social media, news websites and on television of bigotry, hate and violence. Every single day acts associated with these are carried out because of a perceived point of difference. Perceived differences in religion, in education, in opportunity, in resources, in cultural background, in physical appearance. As I sit here and write this now it seems to me that all of these stem from the insidious, creeping, doubt fertiliser- fear of the unknown. What do we do when we experience fear? We feel threatened. What do we do when we feel threatened? We fight. With everything we have we seek to diminish the perceived threat.
With the advent of the internet came a veritable flood of information. It sweeps us along in the comfort of our lounge rooms. It creeps into our train rides, our lunch breaks, and sometimes even our bathroom breaks. We are exposed to a massive amount of commentary from all around the globe. We have access to an incredible volume of knowledge. We can learn about other cultures, we can see lands we might not ever be able to physically visit, we can learn about topics that our grandparents could not have dreamed of learning unless they went to university. We can even talk to people from all around the world and further expand our horizons, we can truly grow and become a better species, more understanding and compassionate. Except…
Wherever you look there are people criticising, judging, mocking and castigating others for how they look, live, express themselves, for what they believe in. It seems that you can’t express a single thought without the crushing weight of objection and differing opinion being forcefully thrust upon you, publicly halting you in your tracks, minimising, reducing and nullifying your perspective. We have forgotten how to have an intellectual conversation and explore ideas and we are left with, thanks to being relatively anonymous and faceless on the internet, bullying and closed-minded expressions designed to shut down rather than encourage conversation.
I’m super tired of it. If you are reading this I’m sure you are too. We’ve seen the really interesting article and told ourselves not to look at the comments… why am I looking at the comments?! Oh I hate humanity, we’re the worst, a true cesspool of self-important filth, surely a genetic accident. It’s not very helpful. What would be far more helpful I think is interesting dialogue framed in such a way as to encourage conversation. Instead of “you f***ing ignorant bastard, shut your face before I shut it for you” perhaps a “that’s an interesting perspective, why do you think that?” or “I don’t see it that way, I’m more of the opinion that…”. Perhaps then we could do away with labels and even anger and start to hear each other. Call me a dreamer but I think that doing away with fear and self-righteous indignation could soothe many of the worlds ills. Curiosity before fear would go a long way towards helping as well.
Then there’s the big stuff that shouldn’t even be a thing. Racism. WTF is with all of the racism? I saw a legend of a woman talking about racism (on the internet) and she is an educator. Her message was that we aren’t born racist, we learn to be racist and the stupidest thing about racism is that there is only one race, the human race. We are all the same race just with differing levels of pigmentation in our skin. But someone decided that it benefited them to plant into small minds this idea of difference and we ate that rubbish up for breakfast. Can you imagine a world without racism? Jon Lennon tried. We would still have rich and varied cultural differences and how wonderful if we could be curious about one another cultures instead of feeling threatened by them.
There are always, thank goodness, curious folk in this world who do not subscribe to fear and bigotry. There are always those who work to create conversation and effect positive change in our global societies, but they are still the exception, not the rule. Until the day comes when we can be curious, compassionate and loving beings as the norm rather than the exception. Until the day we can identify and appreciate our sameness. Until the day where we can allow one another our differences and not feel threatened. I say, you do you. Be wholly yourself. Shine your light, share your views, be curious about those who come at you from a place of anger or resistance and start the conversation. The movement has been around since the beginning of human time, but just maybe you’ll help someone finally see that there’s more joy and peace in live and let live.
“Hate cages all the good things about you.” ~Terri Guillemets