I had a very different article set to go out today but then things changed. Sometimes things in life point you in a different direction but the end goal is the same. Over the last day I’ve been faced with a few things that led me to reflect on the ways people disconnect from others in ways that they think make sense, but really they step outside of boundaries that they were blind to. I’m guilty of it myself. Well intentioned messages or stepping into a fight that wasn’t mine to begin with, trying to help bring peace but making things worse. Or, I’m sad to say, judging others based on a fraction of who they really are. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”, maybe the road to enlightenment is contemplation before acting on those intentions. I’m writing this on the fly, ideas bouncing in my head and connecting thoughts of mistakes I’ve made and times I’ve felt wrongly accused. It happens, it’s life, we get over it, right? Sadly, not all the time. Some of us hold guilt that we shouldn’t even own and while words “will never hurt me” is a classic rhyme, it’s untrue. Words do hurt. Sometimes they lead to self destruction, or the destruction of others.
Each of us live in a bubble, no matter how large it is, we can really only see to its edges. Some of us find our edge in the company we keep, our daily lives, religious preferences, and we conduct ourselves through a prism of our own mind. Thoughts and words become actions. Over the years I have watched the music scene boil with turmoil, only to find that the basis of it was a misunderstanding vocalized to many. Sometimes the basis of it is one person with single minded views or one part of the story. The same can be said in life. How often a perceived slight can be changed into a full blown issue astounds me, and not in a good way. There’s an interconnection between the macroscopic and microscopic aspects here. We tend to excuse a person’s behavior in an individual sense, but on the broad spectrum that same behavior becomes a societal issue. Let’s say, for example, that in confidence a friend has told another about their troubles with Person A. Friend then tells others about ‘terrible Person A’ only knowing a little about them or the situation. You cannot undo words, no matter how many times you tell the jury to set it aside. How many times have we seen this happen on social media? I believe it’s called cancel culture. Well intentioned yes, but sometimes it’s weaponized gossip that ruined someone before we knew the whole story. Maybe we should stick to the stories of our own lives and give our support to those who lived the situation rather than making it about us.
As human beings, we tend to be very, well, self centered. They aren’t Karen, Dale and John, they are our friends, our family, the people we look up to. It’s wonderful really, we are hurt when those we care about hurt, but at the same time we are often blindly support them. Our empathetic hearts excuse them from any wrong while blaming the ones we don’t claim as ours. We give more weight to the opinions closest to us while those opinions may be wrong. How far is too far on this type of thinking though? A child raised in a family and friends bubble that believes their religion, race, lifestyle is the ‘right’ one has little chance of reaching outside of that circle. Generational poverty does not breed top level executives. Homelessness does not often see a stable life with that white picket fence. You may be thinking of stories you’ve heard where this did happen, and you’d be correct. Every so often a wonderful story of overcoming poverty hits the news! It tells us that there was that one person, in that one instance that was different from what we expect and we feel so sad for those who didn’t find their way to success from that same situation. The problem lies in the fact that it’s a double edged sword.
Think, if you will, about the child raised to believe their religion or race, maybe even their gender, is the only ‘right’ one. Yes, they will probably meet people who prove they are not anything like the perceived type but that idea above, where there’s that one person that doesn’t fit the norm? That’s more likely how it’s perceived to someone surrounded by gossip that has become gospel. In the macroscopic we see these groups as racists, misogynists’, religious fanatics, and we are willing to stand together as groups to fight against their ideas. What are we doing on the individual levels though? That is where real bravery is needed. In groups we feel supported but alone with a friend who says something that makes us cringe a little inside? The one we let go on because “it’s just how they are”, or “they’re just saying it because…”? Do we censor our own words to include that we don’t know the whole story or do we repeat what we’ve heard? Do we take a moment to research the facts, assigning those in our circle their own blame, or do we blindly go where our supposedly good intentions take us? Are those intentions really well meaning if we’re spreading gossip? When we share stories from others, maybe we should ask why we feel inclined to.
Maybe we will never know our real place in this world, but I don’t think our place is looking over the fence to our neighbors yard when ours in in disarray. I’m not saying that there’s never a time to rail against injustice, I’m saying don’t be part of the injustice in the world. Stop feeding into the worst of society with rumors, gossip and cancel culture ideas to change the world like the revolutionary you want to be. The real revolution is a revolution of self. Speak up without a crowd backing you. Accept others can be different than you and still be good people. Embrace the difference and various experiences of life without blocking people into sections of who you consider good before you know their stories. Our lives have soundtracks that we write ourselves; Sad melodies, lovely orchestra moments of beauty and more. If we blindly follow the crowd around us, without opening ourselves to the idea that our single minded thoughts of what is ‘right’ may be wrong… We’re writing a symphony of self destruction for ourselves and the world.
Until next week,