I've been thinking about a lot of things related to our society lately, to the point where my brain has officially overflowed. I suppose I'll begin emptying it slowly by writing about it. I don't even know how this particular post is going to end up. We'll see, but be warned, this will be a true, flat-out ramble, so here goes.
I've been increasingly concerned with the state of our world in the last couple of years, and I don't know what to do about it. It seems like humanity is going to doom itself no matter what the few try to do. Violence, war, hate, disdain, anger, prejudice, and bigotry run rampant everywhere I look. What is it about being human that makes this okay? How has the world not stopped and said, "Hey, whoa. What's going on here? This isn't how things should be, let's fix this!"? Sure, over time there have been tons of individuals that say exactly this, such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, and others. (Note: they were all murdered.) Why is it only the people who truly care about what is right are labeled as "outspoken"? Shouldn't the violent ones, the hateful people of the world be the "outspoken" ones? What's wrong with us?
I didn't care about these sorts of questions even two years ago. I'm only 25 as it is, but as an even younger 23 year-old white dude, it all seemed meaningless. I used to count myself a Republican, or at least a conservative. I used to support the various wars our country was getting into, and I used to be okay with violence (such as the violence of a pit at a hardcore show, not street violence). I had a lot of opinions I had no right to. I thought I could talk about the ins and outs of health care, religion, cultures, or sexual orientation. How could I truly say that I knew what I believed in when I was so ignorant? I still am for that matter. We all are. Many of my opinions have fallen away since then, and many I have thrown away on purpose. I've been trying to be a better person, to forsake all the stupid things I've said and done when I was younger.
So I've been left wondering: what's it all about? What are my thoughts on homosexuality, Mormons, President Obama, or corporations? How can I live as a member of society, and contribute to the benefit of all? Do I need opinions about everything? Can my brain handle the vast amount of information needed to be truly informed about everything? I don't think so.
Last semester I took a philosophy class with great reluctance. It fulfilled two requirements though, so I thought I'd push through. I'm not gonna say I was surprised by it, or that my experience was life-changing and unexpected. In fact, my professor turned out to be pretty self-righteous and offensive. But it did make me think. I don't believe anyone could take a class that forces you to examine yourself in order to receive an "A" and not walk away wondering if you knew yourself as well as you thought. We read a lot of material by Marx, Freud, Smith, and Plato. They all had different views of things; some dated by the ideologies and prejudices of their time, some not so much (which was impressive). My gut reaction to their ideas told me a lot about myself. Why exactly was I (initially) so opposed to Marx's view of capitalism and the alienation of labor? Why did I think Plato's view of the Philosopher Kings was so elitist and flawed? It helped to make me see how set I was on my own ways of thinking, much of which has no real basis. I've been trying to examine myself ever since.
Just yesterday I was reading some comments on a local author's Goodreads profile. I was interested in seeing what people thought of his book, because I had been considering it as my next read. I was astounded, astounded by the horrible things people were saying. There were many good reviews, but the two or three people who didn't like the book were downright malicious. The venom in which they attacked the author's prose, story-telling, and character development was purely venomous. They even began attacking the author's religion, saying inflammatory and hurtful things about stuff I knew from personal experience they didn't understand. They turned the comment thread into a battleground, sowing bigotry and hate at everyone who disagreed with them or tried to defend the author to them. It made me sick to my stomach. I want to ask them, "Why?". Why do you do this? How does tearing someone down benefit you? What good is all this animosity toward another human being doing? How can you live with yourself knowing that you have said such things?
Now, I know that is just the internet. It's to be expected right? Is it though? Isn't saying "It's just the internet, get over it" simply excusing the actions and words of people who are right now actively destroying the human experience? The festering wound of anonymous social interaction doesn't stay relegated to the web. It leaks its puss into real life. The same people who cuss out Rebecca Black for her harmless music video probably cuss out their own kids at home. The same people who post horrible comments about The Hunger Games movie including people with different skin color than them are the same ones still oppressing minorities in the workplace. We live in a world filled with so much pointless hate, I feel like I'm drowning in it. Shouldn't we expect more from people? Even if we have never met a person outside the internet, should we not expect people to be decent to each other?
Why is it some of us can't wait to go to war? Why is it so many young people believe that the Iraqis deserve to die, or that our occupation is right and just without question? Why is it so many people applaud the massacre of our own brothers and sisters at the hands of an American soldier while they sleep? How is it okay to urinate on the bodies of slain opponents? How can a man decide to enlist with a group of people that will soon bomb a crowded train station, or crash an airplane into a building full of people? Simply because the believe something different than them, or have different skin color? How does this happen? Please, just think about it for a moment, about the simple actions that kill, maim, and destroy lives. Why?
Why do the bullies at school taunt the "fat kid" for being overweight? Why do unspeakable things happen to the high school kid who came out of the closet last year? Why are Mormons cursed and ridiculed? Why do Catholics have to live with the stigma of child-molesting priests? Why are people of Middle-Eastern descent labeled as radical Muslims and extremists? Why are people of differently colored skin still beaten? Why do we sit silently by as young women are murdered in their houses because of their descent? How do men still give in to the urge to rape women? How do people of authority still take advantage of the ones they should be teaching and protecting? How is child abuse is still tolerated? How can we excuse the parents who neglect and beat their children? The weight of these atrocities sometimes keeps me up at night. How can these things be?
It's a difficult situation. Sometimes I want to just shut down, shut it all out. Can I give up on humanity? Can I do anything about it? Is nihilism the answer? Should I just stop caring? Is the world and all the good and bad within it simply meaningless? Can everyone just go to hell?
How do we deal with all of these things? Why aren't we excellent to each other? What do we gain from wars, how do we benefit from standing off in groups? Why do we have to fight each other? I'm sick and tired of everyone passing it off as "the way of the world", or "just try to be a good person, that's all you can do". That's not good enough. That's enabling. We should be better than this.
The world isn't meaningless, and your actions aren't either. What right do we have to choose whether or not homosexuals can marry, what right do we have to decide if someone gets medical care or not? What right do we have to force our beliefs and ideas on people across an ocean we've never even seen? What right do we have to tear down a young person's dreams with horrible comments and emails? What right do we have to take the money from someone just trying to get by? What right do we have to murder and enslave thousands of people? What right do we have to shove people into categories and dismiss them? What right do we have? Where do we get off?
I hereby declare myself to be an idiot. I don't know what I thought I did. I have no right to the things I have said about other people before. I look forward knowing that I will meet people I don't agree with, and meeting people who hate me. It's my job to not hate them back. It is my job to learn about them, to enjoy the diversity. Not to ignore, but celebrate our differences. I have so much to learn about the world, so much to understand and accept. I invite everyone to do the same. Strip off your pride, take down your walls. When you look at someone, try to look inside them. Don't judge people because of their weight, gender, hairstyle, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or cultural background. Don't judge. I want to have faith in the world. I do.