The state of the world – plunged even more into chaos than ever – distresses and upsets me. It’s difficult to keep my bearings and I find myself frequently longing to tune out. But I’ve learned to ride the waves of chaos, letting go the need to control where it takes me. And, as I plunge deeper, I find myself observing the behavior of people around me with a certain detachment; like Alice falling down the rabbit-hole in slow motion, gazing around her in amazement as she falls.
One of the things I’m seeing is that action creates reaction and radical swings to the conservative right are answered by radical swings to the progressive left. It may be a blessing. Many people are waking up to the fact that they care deeply about the world, long to heal what is broken, and cannot depend on someone else to do it for them.
There is, however, a flipside to this. Radicalism requires a certain amount of black and white thinking. Neutral gray tones are often distrusted. And, before you know it, you’re displaying the same intolerance and hatred as the people you are fighting against.
The British left-wing columnist for The Guardian, Owen Jones, recently left the journalistic arena, disillusioned by the never-ending attacks on his person. Not only from right-wing opponents but also from the left. In a final column, he writes, “Their belief is so righteous and pure that the only possible reason for someone disagreeing with it is malice or greed. That I’m a careerist, obsessed with my own profile, driven by selling books or making money, that the Guardian has brainwashed me, that I was never really left-wing, and so on and so forth.”
As Buttonwood remarks in the Economist, the real sting here is that the people attacking him cannot believe that he might simply not agree with him. They are convinced he is driven by malice or greed. People are more and more unwilling to trust that the motives of those who disagree with them might be pure.
The habit of spreading fake news is not only confined to the liars of the new American administration. Shocking and shocked reports about the newest atrocity spread like wildfire on the Internet, unchecked for sources and trustworthiness. If it’s saying what you believe to be true, it’s true and you will probably share it on your Facebook page or email it to all your friends.
Is this the way to win the revolution? Are we not in danger of becoming those we oppose? This is a heartfelt plea to be the change we want to see in the world. To think before we act. To check and double-check the facts of the news we spread. And, in the face of disagreement, to seek to understand and then try to make ourselves understood. Only then, will we preserve our integrity.