I started out this post trying not to let my anger and frustration leak through, trying to simply lay out my confusion mostly for myself as I search for a path through the darkness but also to see what insights others might have if anyone chooses to respond. Knowing how this whole internet/social media/digital community thing works and knowing how people are, if anyone replies I expect there to be a few (or more) negative responses because it seems that humans can’t help themselves from being assholes. Oddly, I find myself interested in those responses just as much as any others because it illuminates yet another facet of the multi-layered, many sided “Problem” that we as humanity struggle with every moment of life.
I found myself wondering if all these issues that are currently in the forefront could be traced back to one problem (though not the one problem that so many folks want to argue about) I thought about the police brutality/violence towards black people and the violent responses, about the gun violence/issue, about women’s equality issues, about LGBT issues, race issues, religious issues… on and on and on. I asked myself why they are issues at all. As I went through each of these issues, a few common threads kept coming up. The three that were the most prevalent were ignorance, fear, and arrogance.
Ignorance. The lack of knowledge, the sometimes willful lack of knowledge in regards to a situation, person, time, issue, etc. What do I mean by “sometimes willful”? It seems that there are a lot of people who don’t want to know the truth about important issues. They don’t want to take the time to learn about how things really are. They are happy in their ignorance, they hold onto it with a desperate strength because they aren’t challenge by their ignorance. They are comfortable in their version of how the world works and the idea that they might be wrong terrifies them more than anything. They are belligerent in their belief that their version is the only right version and they will die fighting for it rather than accept that they might be wrong. They choose their fantasy, their comfort over the truth. It is easier for them and others suffer for it. That is what I mean by “Willful lack of knowledge”.
We all fear what we don’t know. We assume it could hurt us and so we go into defense mode. Sadly, personal experience and shared history often shows that what we don’t know can SOMETIMES hurt us, but not always. But knowing this only reinforces the idea that true knowledge is the best course of action. If you have a 50/50 shot at getting hurt from something you don’t know, then it would seem that your chances of getting hurt would lessen if you educated yourself. Often it is our own reactions to what we don’t know that sparks conflict. If we learned more about a person or a group of people then maybe we wouldn’t assume that they are all terrorists or criminals. If we stopped believing the media (social/network/other) and started looking for facts then we could make better choices. Maybe we could begin to fix our broken systems from the smallest all the way to big government. Ignorance will never lead to positive change. We need to stop, breath and take a moment (or more) and learn about each other with open minds and hearts. We need to put aside our own selves and truly invest in each other, find our common links, find and truly realize our common humanity.
Fear. Fear is a hard one to comprehend because it is so instinctual, so overriding and so very, very big. We feel fear. There is no getting around it. Everyone, everywhere feels it and often times we can’t control it. There are a million bits of advice floating around but when it comes down to it, none of them will get rid of fear. Nothing will. The key then is to accept that we feel it, accept that it is a huge force in our lives, accept that it is part of who and what we are and then look at what comes next. We can’t control whether or not we feel fear but we can (to a great extent) control how we react to it. There, in that place of choice, of control, of action, can we find our chance to make a difference, to change our path, to make things better, to begin to heal, to begin to love, to begin to find our commonalities, our humanity, and overcome fear and ignorance.
We have to make a CHOICE not to let the fear that we feel become what guides our every action/inaction. We have to educate ourselves, arm ourselves with CORRECT information and then take a moment, take a breath and think with the amazing brains that we were given and make a better choice on every level, with every chance encounter, with every conversation, every moment. We have to choose not to be suspicious about someone because of the color of their skin, or the clothes that they wear. We have to choose not to assume but to get the truth through asking questions and questioning assumed “knowledge”. We have to stop believing and start knowing (not assuming). We have to make the choice to Act Informed, not React out of fear and ignorance.
Arrogance. I sometimes think that this one is at the root of all problems. We are an arrogance species, assuming dominance over everything on this planet. We think we are at the top of the food chain, claiming the right to kill other species for food, for material goods, for fun. We look at other species as “pests” and kill them because they are inconvenient for us. We think we have the right to use and abuse the earth as we want and most of us don’t even accept that there are consequences. Because some of those consequences aren’t truly impacting our current day to day, most people shrug them off, not caring that we are screwing future generations. We abuse each other because we arrogantly believe that, “I am better than you”. We use a million reasons to convince ourselves that we have the right to be arrogant. We use ignorance, religion, sexism, racism and a million other reasons to puff ourselves up and make us feel superior. Then we use that to abuse, maim, destroy, enslave, assault, kill, beat, break, endanger and belittle anyone and anything that we feel is less than.
It is arrogance that allows someone to believe that their religion is the only right religion and so they must kill or dominate everyone who does not believe the same. It is arrogance that allows someone to believe that anyone who doesn’t have the same skin color as theirs is somehow less than human and therefor doesn’t deserve the same rights. It is arrogance that allows someone to believe that women are lesser humans and therefor shouldn’t be paid the same, shouldn’t have control over their own bodies, that they are somehow at fault. It is arrogance that allows someone to believe that just because they wear a uniform and carry a gun that killing a person of color is acceptable. It is arrogance that allows someone to believe that they have the right to take another’s life because they have difference sexual preferences. It is arrogance that makes humanity believe that they have the right. We are an arrogant species and we revel in it, we bath in it and we won’t give it up.
Do I think there is an answer to the problem? No. Firstly, there are many problems. There are many symptoms and many effects that are the result of what I think are a few core causes. Will we ever defeat/get rid of those core causes or even all the symptoms? Probably not but does that mean that we shouldn’t try. Hell no! We must try. We have to try. We have to be better than we are now. Every day we have to be less ignorant, less arrogant and less controlled by fear.
We must try. We have to try. We have to be better than we are now. Every day we have to be less ignorant, less arrogant and less controlled by fear.
We have to be better.