There is a pandemic sweeping our nation right now and it’s not the one you think.
Following months of nonstop chaos, the one universally consistent theme has been the highly contagious flu of self-righteousness. No matter the hot button issue at hand, it seems that everyone is now under the opinion that they have it all figured out, and if you don’t align with those beliefs, you’re a monster. Why is it that so many who believe diversity is critical to humanity don’t share that belief when it comes to diversity in opinions?
There is an influx of “keyboard warriors” out here right now, who spend their entire day sharing unoriginal content that speaks down to anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their narrative, and believe that their actions of tapping buttons behind the safety of their phone screen makes them superior to people who don’t. It is very concerning to me, and quite frankly, annoying. Let me give one example.
I believe that the majority of people are good and have good in their heart. I think that 99% of people agree that racism is bad and do not live their lives intentionally doing hateful things. I also believe good people still unintentionally do racist things due to past learned behavior that only time and experience can change. With that being said, I saw many people post a meme during the height of the racial protesting that said (and I’m paraphrasing here) “If you went on your church mission trip and exploited black children in your social media pictures but you’re not advocating on social media for BLM, you did that for your own benefit and the vacation, not to help black children.” One can only assume that is directed to those who travel to impoverished, third-world countries and share photos of their trip surrounded by native children, or giving them supplies, etc. Many of you may know or have inferred that I am not a particularly religious person myself. But I will NEVER disparage someone who spent weeks of their life in the heat, without running water, surrounded by disease, homelessness and hunger, in an effort to help those in need. These people are literally crossing oceans to bring clean drinking water, build houses and provide much needed supplies to humans who are suffering. If it took Christianity to get them there, fine. At what point did someone decide that their choice of sharing information on their Instagram was somehow a superior form of black activism than someone who physically went to Africa on a mission trip? THAT is what I mean by self-righteousness.
There is a serious lack of empathy and thinking for oneself happening in the world right now. Historically, we have celebrated the free thinkers, philosophers and social activists who questioned and opposed the narrative. The Aristotle’s, the Isaac Newton’s, the Martin Luther King Jr’s of the world- had these people not questioned the accepted narrative and blazed their own paths using critical thinking and viewing things from a more empathetic, universal perspective, where would be? Now for some reason we’ve come to a point where we are fed 2 EXTREME narratives on EVERYTHING, and there is no middle ground. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. Every hot button topic from abortion to police brutality, body autonomy, to freedom of speech and beyond, there is no room for gray areas. And if you question what you’re being told, you’re a crazy conspiracy theorist, un-American, a socialist, a racist, a hypocrite, or worse.
We need to get to a point of empathy and acceptance for our fellow humans, animals and planet as a whole. You’re not right just because it is what YOU believe. You’re not right just because it’s how YOU choose to try and make change. You’re not right just because it’s YOUR experience.
I fully support and encourage people who choose to loudly proclaim their beliefs on public platforms, however, I try my best not to do that for myriad reasons. I like to let people form their own opinions, I find it exhausting and adding fuel to a fire that’s already burning out of control, I’m searching for a job so I try not to discuss polarizing issues, and most importantly, I believe that the only thing that makes people actually change their opinion is personal experience. When people feel very strongly about something, no amount of yelling, data, fact-checking or harassment will change that. But a personal experience absolutely will. Living my truth and being a light to others who encounter me is my form of activism. But it does not make me superior to those who are more vocal.
We need to hop off our high horse and instead of attacking one another, first acknowledge the human experience that formed these behaviors and opinions that differ from our own. We have to get back to a place where thinking for oneself was applauded, not berated. And quite frankly, we need to thicken our skins and learn how to have productive debate instead of just cancelling and blocking anyone who doesn’t agree. We always talk about how boring the world would be if everyone was just alike, and yet algorithms and new technologies have us living in a world where all the content we see is tailored to our own patterns. We only share and consume information if it supports OUR ideologies, and that’s not ok. It’s the equivalent of a child with their fingers in their ears yelling “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” when being told what to do.
We truly are “all in this together.” No one gets out of here alive, and regardless of what you think happens in the after, no matter where you sit politically, no matter the color of your skin, or how much money is in your bank account, the end result is going to be the same for each and every one of us. Be a little kinder to one another. Take it down a notch. Speak a little less and listen a lot more. Broaden your horizons and step outside your comfort zone. This what truly matters; the rest is just distraction.