Friday, July 26, 2013
It's Not Pretty, But It's Human
I deleted it.
I frankly just decided that I couldn't take the aggravation.
I've been confronted a lot this week with groupthink. A pervasive, insidious push toward "you're with us, or your against us." Left, right, no fucking difference. God forbid anybody asks questions, or offers considered alternatives. The opinion of the masses has been set. Speaking out with any sort of critical thinking has become verboten in our rapidly brainwashed culture.
Yes, I said brainwashed.
We are inundated with messages that position the world as black and white. There's "us," the right thinkers, and "them," the unwashed, insidious evil. Again, left, right, no difference. Social media has made this portion of the American political spectrum, which has always been there, the mainstream.
We live in a world where we have chosen, systematically, to opt out of critical thinking in favor of a collective groupthink that aligns with the opinions we already hold. We choose "news sources" who will present information in ways that singularly support our own worldview, or at least fail to challenge it.
The simple fact is, there are no "news sources" anymore, simply propaganda machines that we either hold up as unimpeachable, or slander as outright fabrication. I don't give a shit if it's thinkprogress.com, Fox News, Salon, or The New Republic. None of it is designed to facilitate thought, it's designed to reinforce and justify the opinion you've already decided upon.
It's comfort food. An intellectual Twinkie. It's sweet and comforting, and provides zero nutrition.
Then, the really destructive part kicks in. We share this propaganda on Facebook, or Twitter, and convince ourselves this is the same as political "action"...
Bullshit. Utter bullshit.
It's not action, at all. What possible positive change in society can come out of sharing something you already agreed with? That challenged your overall perceptions not in the slightest. Sharing it with a group of peers who, at a guess, are 99% (or more) likely to absolutely agree with you? That's not action, it's masturbation.
It's sharing propaganda with a like-minded peer group, in order so that you may all share in the glow of being "right" and "more enlightened" together. It perpetuates a continual divisive political climate, and a close-mindedness to ideas that do not hew, utterly and completely, to your already established bias. You've created a closed cycle of superiority, and outright hatred (which is ABSOLUTELY NOT the sole purview of the right, let me tell you), that will never resolve positively.
Let me say that again; it will NEVER resolve positively.
Animosity will continue. Hatred and resentment will grow, and we'll continue to look around at our own peer group, read our preferred propaganda, and assure ourselves, "hey, WE'RE not the problem."
Then the shooting will start.
I have walked many different paths in this world, with many different kinds of people. I've worked on ranches with very conservative peers. I have worked in the very liberal world of theatre for most of my adult life. I grew up in a town dominated by the military, and now the center of the "megachurch" phenomenon. I've been to the lowest points a human can tolerate, and the highest. I have seen love and hate in all of these places.
No one is a saint, and no one is a devil.
The thing I learned, and I often don't see around me, and rarely see considered, at all, anymore, is that we're all the same. We're all human, we make the best decisions we can, based on the situation at hand. We fail, sometimes catastrophically, we succeed, sometimes far beyond our wildest dreams, but we cannot transcend our basic humanity.
...And sometimes humans are very, very petty. Sometimes they are very, very weak. Sometimes they are very, very cruel.
The thing to remember is that we are ALL those things. That's what "human" is. We are all biased, all fearful, all stereotypes, all prejudiced. Flaws are an inescapable part of the fabric of humanity, and hating the "right people" doesn't absolve your hatred. It just means you've managed to justify your ugliness to yourself.
No one gets a pass, and anybody who accuses another of any of those things, is...without fail...a hypocrite. Which is not to say that we should not be held accountable for our failings, but we should all remember....those failings are often universal.
And to answer what you may be thinking, I don't pretend to have any moral superiority in any facet of life. I have done awful things. I have hurt people and myself. I absolutely do not excuse myself from this criticism. However, I do believe that refusing to excuse myself is the first step to understanding myself and others.