I’m not much of a subscriber to conspiracy theories. I don’t hold with the notion that a world cabal is responsible for the greed, hate and stupidity that is so accessible and plentiful in our world. Why do we need some deep, dark force to create that which we embrace and advance so willingly of our own accord?
I am dumbfounded when we attack those that disagree with us. I suppose my stunned reaction is because I have the notion that we can break the vicious cycle of violence and hate if we so desire and actually work toward that goal. I don’t think it would be easy, after all we each suffer from ingrained prejudices, unreasoned hates and fears that keep us gasping for life’s breath as we slog through our cesspool swamps, but I have a faith that we can become more than we are. I no more expect casting off unreasoned, Pavlovian salivations of enmity to be simple than I do breaking any life long addiction, but as hatred is a cancer among us I do cling to the hope that we can fight it, subdue it and if not defeat it at least love it into submission.
I am not the most accepting, embracing, pacific of people. I storm, rant and rave. I feel horror at what we humans do to one another and our selves and my first reaction is to thunder and storm and try force others to bend to my will for their own good. This is a learned reaction, it is no more natural and normal than is a desire to strap explosives around one’s waist and detonate self and others into oblivion. Feeling anger in situations where we see things that we think are wrong is a natural reaction, what we do with that anger is a learned behavior. One of the axioms that I try to incorporate into my life is to take actions that lead me toward my goals rather than away from them. When was the last time someone listened to us when we screamed at him? How likely is it that we can change hearts or minds by raging?
One of the areas where American Society seems to be slipping ever deeper into the cesspool is in demonizing those with whom we disagree. Finding fault, calling names, spreading half-truths and misleading innuendo about them is a National Pastime. This is likely a result of frustration at what we think is injustice in the world but the question each of us should be asking himself is how are our actions alleviating the problems that we perceive? If we are simply adding fuel to a fire rather than addressing a concern and looking for a solution then how are we advancing our cause? If our actions, rantings and finger pointing lead us away from our goals rather than toward them then what does it say about our sanity if we dare not stop, think and approach the issues from a perspective of respectful communication? “They started it!” seems to be our new motto and too many of us too often are looking to perpetuate the hate rather than work toward a civil solution.
And we start teaching this behavior when our children are very young. The simple act of fanatical support of a sports team is a symptom of our embrace of hatred. Not because we love our team but because we divide into opposing camps that hurl malice at those that support others. This division of tribe versus others, right versus wrong is pandemic in humans and this mind set is responsible for so much fear and hate. We came out of the caves and down from the trees eons ago, maybe our world view should change too.
Which is not to say that if we stopped shouting, stopped finding fault with the other guy and started listening to the message of those with whom we disagree and started conducting ourselves civilly that all the world’s problems would dissolve. There are great rifts in wealth, world view, beliefs in the merits of equality and conflicts concerning resources that are real issues. Our troglodyte response of fear, violence and destruction has to be replaced by a different model. It is possible to passionately disagree without violently disagreeing. We seem to be stuck in a routine of responding to disagreement by shouting, shooting and shelling when we should be looking, listening and leading. Just because we think The Almighty may be on our side doesn’t mean that those that oppose us are minions of destruction. We need to stop posturing and start listening; who knows, maybe we can disagree without destruction or denunciation. It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?