The world is going to sh*t isn’t it?
… if we believe it, it will become so.
We now live in an opt-in filtered world. Tribes are self-selected, no longer limited to geography and religion. We follow and interact with like-minded individuals at work and on social media, and in turn they shape our reality and we shape theirs. Behavioral science calls this “emotional cognition” – we adopt the beliefs, feelings and behaviors of the people with whom we spend most of our time. Our work, family and online tribes become our comfortable, lazy interaction bubbles.
It is no wonder racial, sexual, cultural and even regional governance fights are pouring into the streets.
We have subconsciously built a life that avoids direct challenges to our own beliefs; throwing diversity, debate and tolerance to the wind in exchange for mindlessly-easy relationships. A tribe with whom we can be lazy and wholly ignorant…
…until it boils over.
In the past, a modern day white supremacist might have been that one overtly racist old guy on the outskirts of town, or that redneck college roommate. He occasionally said messed-up stuff, and if he violated a moral norm in public he was generally ignored/shunned in order to avoid escalation by confronting him. Today, he is not alone in the world. He can find, communicate with and build his own tribe. What was once a kid from-the-sticks with a socially-awkward redneck joke, has turned into a dangerous group-think rally with like-minded racists. He now has people on his team and feels emboldened.
Its like dancing at a concert – the first kid dancing is a stared-at as a loner. But once the second joins, they could be on to something – feeding on each others’ energy. Next thing you know, everyone in the crowd is dancing.
It is not that racism and sexism are new to our country. It is that the isolated pockets which we neglected as small, fringe and likely harmless have joined together to show us greater scale than we ever could have imagined. Modern connectivity has forced the world into involuntary detox. Toxins (anger & hate) from every nook and cranny have been released and can readily move throughout the body, separately or as angry mobs. These may not be the challenges we chose, but the only choice we have now is how we respond.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.
But that is not for them to decide.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
1.) Awareness is nothing without Action
#MeToo and standing up for yourself is important and needed, but let’s not stop with awareness about past actions. Identifying and speaking out about a problem is only fruitful if solutions are found. Each of us must make time for uncomfortable, direct conversations. We must answer questions about “What it means to be born White vs Black vs Latino vs Asian etc.” Why society looks away from sexual-predation and objectification as if a flaw inherent in men that we must accept.
Individuals and groups must be confronted when they objectify and slander. Good men and women must go out of their way to stand up for others. And most importantly, we must paint the picture of our future, plan for how we get there, then reach out and grab it.
“Now, we must all fear evil men.
But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most,
and that is the indifference of good men.”
– Monsignor, Boondock Saints
What do I plan to do about it?
Have the conversation at home. Host events with my Alumni group, community, & in unexpected areas designed to discuss the problems and come up with potential answers. Vouch to step in where & when appropriate.
What are your thoughts? (would love your comments and commitments to Action below)
2.) R_E_S_P_E_C_T & Listen
Never fight anger with anger. Regardless of the seeming senselessness of others’ views, we must respect them as human beings, starting with compassion and understanding. Getting down to their rooted pain-points and the root of our societal weaknesses. We must start by asking questions and listening, instead of interjecting. Probing inquisitively and filled with curiosity. Can you get to the root of the problem by asking why 6 times?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.”
~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What do I plan to do about it?
Dive in to uncomfortable conversation when I create them (above) and when they come about in life.
How about you? (would love your comments below)
3.) Forgive & Attempt to Educate
Some acts are unforgivable and life-shattering. Forgiving is not forgetting. Forgiving does not change the past, but letting go of past hurts can allow healing and rebuilding of the future. That said, ignoring a problem will not make it go away. I will only kick the can down the road for the next time when it can once again find it’s clan and its next victim. Nothing great ever came from sitting idly by. Greatness only comes from thoughtful and focused action with consistency and the determination never to quit. Emotional cognition must be used to our advantage – influencing those who would do harm to our communities by influencing and showing the way to a better world.
“Always forgive your enemies;
nothing annoys them so much.”
― Oscar Wilde
4.) Choose to Find Positive Possibilities
Like the story of the two wolves (of the Cherokee & Tomorrowland), I choose to reject the hypothesis that our world is on the decline, and instead work to build a new reality with action. I choose to believe tomorrow will be a better day, because I will do everything in my power to make it so. I choose to level-up, and push this world and myself toward version 2.0.
As always, I welcome your questions, thoughts, comments, critiques, and
words of wisdom below. I also welcome the opportunity to
connect and debate on Twitter, other social media or IRL.