It really makes no sense at all. I see this “concern” most prominent in politics and religion – those are the easiest areas to spot it – or rather being run over by it.
If you don’t believe this certain way, you’re either ignorant, stupid, a heretic, an enemy of the state, evil, or you get some other wonderful label.
If you don’t do things in a certain way, you’re a deviant, non-conformist, troublemaker, or something else just as unpleasant.
Social media is right in there in this wonderful feature of humanity – using the communication tool to reach as many people as possible with one’s political or religious beliefs. All in the name of bring right and trying to convince others that, not only are you right, but what they believe and how they act are wrong and they should change to your clearly superior way of going about life. It’s destructive to relationships and communication.
This is not new. This has been going on since…well…since as long as anyone can remember. It’s a human feature. It’s why I have been known to say that dictatorship is the norm of human history – democracy is a recent development that hasn’t been part of humanity’s norm. But there is no guarantee that it will always be that way.
Being right feels great doesn’t it? Except for the fact that we have to tear down those who don’t match up with our version of “right.” I guess it’s also a good feeling to know that there are enemies, evil people who have designs of destroying something we hold dear. It makes us feel like our “rightness” has a deeper meaning. That happens when we feel justified and willing to fight for what is “right.” And then we can go the full distance and justify our belief that it’s ok to kill our enemies – either literally or figuratively. I mean of course we can – they aren’t just wrong anymore – they are evil with intent to destroy something sacred. They must be stopped at all costs.
And what are those costs? We don’t consider the costs really. It’s why I’m not crazy about talking about justice. Lots of things happen in the name of justice – lots of bad and destructive things happen. We glorify these things. We even make comic book heroes out of it – super heroes like the Justice League. You know what I mean. They get the bad guys who were intent on destroying the normal order of things, but at what cost? The cost is usually that a city and all the lives in that city are utterly destroyed and have to start over. The “heroes” walk away thinking they did a great job because they got the bad guy and got their way. Now right thinking and right action have been restored. Never mind that things are in ruin and people’s lives have been ruined. We turn a blind eye to this because it’s a comic book. Yet I find it ironic that the very thing the bad guy wanted – destruction – is what happens by the good guys in order to stop the bad guys.
People blame religion and politics for many wars and deaths. I think it’s something deeper. I think it’s about our supposed need to be right. Politics and religion are just the delivery system for the need. They verbalize this need often. But they don’t have to. I’ve seen politics and religion used in good ways too – beautiful ways that actually empower people, create an environment where different beliefs and ways of living can coexist peacefully and where ideas and innovation can flourish. Not just survival, but thriving life.
Can we all just set aside the belief that we are “right” for a time. The reality is, we don’t really know if we are right anyway. I know, that’s a bit scary – acknowledging the unknown. But it’s actually quite honest and freeing. If we admit we just don’t know and actually have some observations, but they could be wrong – gosh, I wonder how that would change communication. I have a feeling we wouldn’t need an 18 month presidential campaign for that. I have a feeling that we wouldn’t have to fantasize about having super heroes to save the planet. I have a feeling we wouldn’t have groups like ISIS roaming around killing people. I have a feeling our political discourse wouldn’t look like personal attacks. I have a feeling our religious institutions wouldn’t be wondering why they are in decline.
Then again, maybe I’m just being idealistic. I’m okay with that. I’m ok with being wrong too. I’m just human and I don’t know. I don’t know what’s best for everyone. I have enough trouble trying to discern what’s best for me and trying to live that out – adjusting as life comes at me. I used to know that I was right on so many things. I even tried to convince others of how right I was and how wrong they were – those silly people. Now I look to journey with people who also don’t know – maybe we can walk together, make observations and adjust our walk in life. Maybe we can be open to listening – to each other and to God. Maybe.