Let me begin by saying that in the following paragraphs I will undoubtedly use the wrong word, offend multiple people and set keyboards ablaze. None of this is my intent, but I have recently been told that intent doesn’t matter…ever. Nonetheless, I will continue.
I have wanted to get these thoughts out of my head for some time, but over and over have found myself in front of the keyboard too exhausted by the futility of it all to type a character. Being a writer, I hope my words make the reader think…that’s all, to consider something to this point not on their radar. Yet in the current climate, if read at all, every piece is read by 8 out of 10 people (a guesstimate, I have no studies to back this) who started with a preconceived idea and are only reading to find flaws and debunk.
I recently realized that we have come to such a heightened state of tribalism than the one and ONLY thing that matters is that you support and give lip service to whatever your tribe does. We have lost the ability for independent thought while at the same time losing the ability to think about what we say or do, only thinking about what “they” say or do. And by the way, in this situation, “they” are always exponentially worse than anything we could do.
In recent days I’ve thought back to when I was a kid in the 60’s (yes, I am THAT old). There was a group then too that didn’t like the status quo, thought the world was too uptight, and wanted to do their own thing. They were the hippies. All these years later it’s kind of a silly word, but it is well worth thinking about them and their movement. The hippies believed in non-violence. They were against the Vietnam War and weren’t beyond verbally harassing returning soldiers…this part of their movement was not their finest hour. But generally, they loved everyone and took a casual approach to life, sex, and living arrangements. As a movement their slogan was “Make Love, Not War”, and they were happy to, in a sense, smoke dope and skip rope. Like the zealots of today, they too wanted to change the world.
So what’s the difference between then and now? Racism existed in the ’60’s, so did xenophobia, misogyny, or any other ism, phobia, or gyny you can think of. These things are not gone, but the situations have improved. I would like to say they have been eradicated, but sadly they have not and it is an ongoing effort to improve the lot of all inhabitants of the world. But if you are only in your twenties or thirties, you have no basis of comparison and you, as did we all at that age, think you are the first to become “woke” to these issues.
The huge difference I see is anger, plain and simple, ANGER. It makes us blind to a free exchange of ideas, we can’t see our own actions or hear our own words. I recently saw an exchange on Facebook where the original poster was called every name I have listed in the previous paragraph and then some for a, granted, controversial opinion. But then, the person replying suggested the OP consider a nursing home as their brain had clearly ceased to function. In arguing their highly valued opinion, they couldn’t see that they were labeling and judging based on age, which evidently is OK unlike the other possibilities.
My point is this…we have allowed people who never have and never will meet us to drive this anger. You will notice I have not mentioned a name, and I will not as this comes from many sources and sides. It isn’t important who they are, it is important that you have given your free will and independent thinking over to them. To drop names of politicians or media “stars” (and I use the term loosely), is no different than the alcoholic saying, “he made me drink”. Your decisions, your behavior, and for sure, your anger; all those are your own. No one makes you attack someone else behind the anonymity of a keyboard and computer screen. We have not suddenly become experts on all things based on a 30 second video clip. You have NO right to burn down or loot the business of someone you don’t even know. Yet, here we are.
Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, do better”. Rather than literally and figuratively beating people senseless with what you believe is better, why not lead by example? As my mother often reminded me, “you know better”. and we all do, so let’s do better… not just the “others”, but all of us. Let’s think less about being angry and woke, and worry about the one thing we can control…ourselves.