Full Disclaimer: This isn’t a subject I have a good answer for…
We live in a day and age where everyone seems to be fighting something. We’re either fighting for it or against it. We want to “Rid the world of evil! “End all suffering!” and other broad yet good sounding phrases that get shared to hundreds of social media sites…
But are we actually having the reverse effect?
We live in an age of sensationalism. People are hooked on it. A disaster happens and we’re all running to watch and record it. Someone’s kicking against something and we all want to run in and kick and throw insults at it as well. Someone is told off and we suddenly have thousands of blogs analyzing the pros and cons of the criticism and how we always knew secretly that this person was truly an evil person we just couldn’t say it because society wasn’t as insightful as us yet….
It was the Charlottesville protest that first made me wonder this… For what felt like forever, every day I would wake up to see people reblogging videos of a black man getting surrounded and beat up recorded and posted online saying how cruel and one sided this event was. Two posts lower I’d see another video recorded directly across the street of a white man getting ganged up on and beat up saying how cruel and one sided this event was. It was a horrendous historical event, and I know people who witnessed it who were never the same again afterwards.
But the part that made me question how to approach such subjects took place almost a year ago. See, a couple of dumb people went to go protest something dumb in town…. it really seemed like 4-10 people were going to get drunk and yell dumb stuff on a street corner for a day then get bored and go home…
Then people saw it…. and were offended…
People reblogged it and reported it. People claimed how wrong it was and called people together to retaliate against it.
This of course did not go unnoticed as people around the world who sympathized with the cause got offended at people getting offended. They began to raise money to go and support their fellow believers and counter protest the counter protest that was rising up against the original protest.
This spread like wildfire for way too long. People around the world were sharing about the event, calling people to save money and come and support one side or another… what it led to was a small city turned into a warzone, and a world shook up for quite a while after.
Now I’m not here to argue which side was right and which side was wrong. Only to say, this escalated into something far greater and damaging than it was originally going to be, because we raised an army to fight against a handful of people which grabbed the attention of an army which assembled to fight against that army. In all honesty, I don’t think everyone there even cared about the cause one side or another. I think a large portion of people just showed up because there was a sensational thing happening and they wanted to be part of it.
The scary thing is, that no matter how viral something gets… unless it leaves literal scars like Gamergate Wars or Charlottestown, or certain people voted into government roles…. no matter how many people on your friendslist are reblogging, and how many people are claiming “WE DRAW THE LINE HERE AND NO FARTHER!” …. the truth is, in 3 months time it will probably go silent again. There will always be that one or two people who are constantly discussing the matter, but for the most part, the moment that people stop reblogging, people stop caring…. What seemed like the whole world had gone into chaos and was trying to destroy each other seeps back into normality scarily fast.
So what’s the answer? Do we not fight for causes anymore and not draw attention to problems lest we make them worse?
No… I can’t say that because we’ve already proven that Ignorance is NOT Bliss, it’s simply making us unaware of when the inevitable will hit….
In all honesty this is where I get stuck. I can’t say “Ignore those who suffer or those who harm others.” because it goes against pretty much everything my life stands for. On the other hand I can’t say that protests, reblogs, or even angry facebook statuses (yes I do realize I am self criticizing with that one) have ever or will ever do anything to make this world a better place. There are however, a few things I have noticed which I will point out now in hopes that maybe you guys can find answers where I cannot.
1. DON’T FAKE YOUR FACTS OR USE ABUSIVE TACTICS!
Okay, this one is fairly obvious but I’m writing it anyways because too many people don’t get it. If your cause is just your cause is just. Don’t use shock factor posts that use an out of context picture to blame something you’re against. Don’t beat up someone who stands for something you stand against. Don’t be an idiot in any of these regards.Partially because you need to be better than that, partially because if your cause is true why do you need fake facts to begin with?? And MOSTLY because people who are in the other camp WILL call you out on it and in the end you’ll only add fuel to their fire showing how dumb people who argue against them are!
Treat people like human beings even if you disagree with them
Don’t exaggerate or feel you need to shock people into following you
Don’t force people to follow you or hate them if they don’t believe what you do
AND PLEASE FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD STOP USING HORROR MOVIE SCENES OR FAKE PICTURES TO SHOW THE EFFECTS OF NOT LISTENING TO YOU! SNOPES IS WAY MORE EFFECTIVE THAN YOU THINK AT CALLING YOU OUT!
In the end I’ve seen more propaganda FOR causes used AGAINST causes than for them
2. You Can’t “Remove” Evil From This World
I’ve said this before, but… “Evil” isn’t a thing. “Evil” is an absence. Can you dig all the empty out of a hole? Can you turn anything off to remove darkness from a room? Can you remove silence from a room? No! These states are all the absence of something so you can’t “Remove” them, you can only fill the room with something else. In the same way, you cannot “Remove” evil from the world, you can only “Fill it” with good.
3. People Are Not Out to Destroy You
I know a lot of people who hurt me. I know some people who actively look for ways to find any fault in what I say or do so they can turn others against me. I have known people who actively sought me out to harm and torture me. So believe me when I say
No one is out to destroy YOU!
Even those who actively try to hurt you, they aren’t doing it SPECIFICALLY to hurt you! No one wakes up in the morning and is just like “Oh! What evil do I do today! I need to do evil!” NO! This is a belief we’ve instilled due to our culture of “Us vs Them” of “You’re either born good or born evil” or “Only evil people can do evil things!”
The truth is, people do things because they feel they need to. Someone attacks someone, it’s not because they want to attack that person. It is because there is something they feel they will accomplish by attacking them. It may be as noble as protecting someone important to them. It may be as dumb as “I get excited and feel big when I manage to beat people up in a fight!” But what is important is NOT beating you up but what is achieved from it.
This is fairly abstract to wrap your head around but is important to understand. Because when we face a cause we tend to view those against us as cruel heartless people who wish to destroy everything good in this world… No one wants to destroy everything good in this world. Everything YOU think is good in this world maybe, but not what they think is good in this world.
In probably about 90% of arguments I’ve seen… When you listen to both sides of the argument they are often fighting for the same thing. “We want to protect our kids!” “We want equality!” We don’t want this country to fall!” …But we’re human beings. Our perspective is finite and limited. Of course we’re going to have differing ideas as to which is the right way and which is the wrong way. Sometimes there is one side that is actually the only right way. Sometimes there are several ways that are right. Sometimes NONE of us are right!
What’s important to take away from this is not that “Everyone is right in their own way.” but that you are not being personally or intentionally attacked and victimized by someone even if you are indeed being hurt by their actions.
4. Hate Begets Hate
Now that we’ve shown that people make their actions out of what is logical to them (no matter how much or little effort they have put into said logic) we can go onto the next point.
NO ONE LIKES BEING TOLD THEY’RE STUPID AND WRONG!
Do you like being told you’re an idiot and you’re wrong? Probably not. So why would anyone else??
Yet we so often feel like the solution to a problem is to confront people head on. “You’re wrong because you’re being cruel and hurting innocent people! Everything people like you do is cruel and selfish and idiotic! People like you are the reason this world is falling apart! You aren’t capable of good! The world needs to be rid of you!”
Wow… that is… so convincing….
Yet this is what majority of arguments these days sound like!
Don’t attack their person or their actions. Focus on their reasons! Dispel their fears and explain why it is beneficial for them.
“I don’t want ____ because it will make us lose jobs and we’ll all be broke and serving ____”
“Actually by ____ coming in it frees us up to do _____ and will most likely improve the economy by giving us time and energy to do ____! It may take a few years for people to adapt, but if you’re a hard worker and willing to grow, this could actually be a forefront to a new age of industries like _____ and _____”
“I don’t like _____ because they do _____ and force me to do ____.”
“That is fair, and you are allowed to think that way. But have you realized that by retaliating by ______ you look like you’re _____ and it is just in the end going to make ____ retaliate more?”
“I deserve the right to _____ because if I don’t I was told ____ and _____ and ____ will happen to me!”
“I see why you would be worried for that, but those stories are not quite accurate. Here are the actual stats behind it. Also realize that if you do _____ it will mean that _____ will also suffer by _______.”
I can’t guarantee anyone will be convinced by these arguments either, but do you see how it can make people think and approach a subject a little more readily than “YOU EVIL PERSON! IT’S BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT THERE IS SUFFERING IN THIS WORLD! PEOPLE LIKE YOU SHOULD ALL DIE!”
5. Escalation Escalates
This is the scariest one. In western culture especially we have this unrealistic, romanticized dream that we can overpower and overthrow anything that stands against us… The sports star who sneaks past the entire team due to his great skill. The soldier who defeats an entire battalion due to superior weapons, the zombie plague survivor who manages to survive waves of zombies due to ingenius thinking.
The problem is that reality is not so one sided. Everyone is trying their best. Everyone is growing. If you push against someone hard enough, they will push against you equally hard.
I’m always surprised how few people remember these, but as a kid, “Chinese Finger Lock Puzzles” were really popular. They’re these little woven tubes you stick your fingers in, and the harder you pull apart, the tighter they hold onto your fingers. The only way to escape them was to push in and then pull out.
In the same way, fighting against people harder causes them to fight against you harder. This leads to the gamer gates, the Charlottestowns, all sorts of experiences online where things escalate and get more and more violent.
Don’t Make the World Your Enemy. It Meets You at Equal or Greater Force!
6. You Become What You Focus On
What you put your focus on you will become. If you focus on the racists of this world, you will become racist. If you focus on the sexists of this world, you will become sexist. If you focus on the proud of this world, you will become proud. If you focus on monsters in this world, you will become one.
Now note, this does not mean you will become supportive of their causes. It simply means you will develop similar tactics and habits.
A lot of people believe hate is the opposite of love, however both involve obsessing with and giving some level of control over to someone else due to strong emotions. And both lead to some level of mimicking later on. Whether you do something because someone tells you to or don’t do something because someone tells you to, you’re still choosing your actions based on that other person not your own decisions. You’re still being controlled.
The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference.
So then what is the answer?
As I said before, I’m not certain of this myself. But I think I’ve brought up a few points that can be helpful.
- Be a Good/Honest Person Firstmost.
- Don’t View Those Against You as Less/Worse People Than You
- Focus on What You can Put Into This World, Not What You Take Out
- Aim for the Reasons Behind Peoples’ Actions, Not Their Actions
- Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Escalation
- Realize Your Own Perspective and Strength Are Limited Too
- Your Job Isn’t to Change Their Minds, but to Encourage Them to Keep Thinking
Other than these, I am unsure what is the best way to move forward. If you have ideas, let me know, because it is a problem I’ve mulled over for quite a few years now and still am pretty far from where I need to be.
There are times you will have to fight in life to protect someone…. but you will never save anyone by fighting.