The last year of our existence has been a pretty wild ride. In the context of familiarity, I’d say it’s been pretty un-familiar. Beyond the jokes and the cultural epitaphs that 2020 is an apocalyptic year of reckoning with some sort of impending doom to come, I’d merely say it’s been a strange study of humans and mankind in general. When you dissolve the structure of our culture and the systems we’ve put in place to govern our lives, we are nothing but flesh and bone trying to carve out an existence for ourselves in the most logical way we can. Our species is hard wired for human interaction, for belonging and to have purpose. We find shelter in our groups, arbitrarily deciding what is and isn’t the right answer, then seek communion with others who share that same ideology. Along the way, we’re crafted and shaped by the subtle externalities that others bring into our sphere, and eventually we take a hard stance and draw battle lines with those thoughts and ideas that shaped us. Therein lies the war for our humanity.
Rulers and tyrants have always sought to control the flow of information. The process used to be more streamlined. If you didn’t want someone to know something, you just prevented them from hearing it. Kill someone, jail someone or spread the information you wanted people to believe instead. Then some guy figured out how to run a wire across the world, and we invented a way to send messages by sending a series of long and short electrical signals. We’ve been off to the races ever since, and now the whole world is interconnected with the push of a button. Controlling the flow of information is vastly more complex, but the same basic tenets still apply; stop the person from sending it or send something else instead.
Our entire society is blanketed in lies, deceit and misinformation, and it can be very difficult to navigate. There are so many different outlets for information that it’s nearly impossible for even the wariest of people to avoid being taken in by “fake news” at some point. We look for validation as people, and we naturally gravitate towards those who offer it. We can’t forget that the flow of ideas is literally blanketing our society from every spectrum. Many of those ideas are bound to be wrong, so who’s right and who’s wrong? And what does any of this have to do with humanity? It’s the battlelines we draw; those who disagree with an opinion of ours is now the enemy, because otherwise we might be admitting the possibility of being wrong.
Some things are worth fighting for. I don’t think I need to expound on that idea with an audience primarily comprised of military veterans who served their country. Some things are worth drawing that line in the sand and saying, “if you cross this, we will go to war.” However, these days that line in the sand is too readily marked and doesn’t allow for discourse or diplomacy. You disagree with me, therefore you’re my enemy. I hate you for it. Your very existence is a threat to my superior thought, therefore I will allow “once unnegotiable compromises” to what I considered allowable because the ends justify the means. Does that sound familiar to you? How many times have you heard someone over the last twelve years casually talk about an acceptable violation of the constitution because, “- insert political party – are wrong, therefore we need to do this so they can’t take over and violate our constitutional rights.” The palpable irony in that thought aside, these tribes, or groups, have found a place in our brain that sees them as such a threat to our way of life that we’re willing to compromise our oaths and integrity to ensure their agenda ends up at the bottom of the trash heap.
Yes, it’s a trash heap. Your idea isn’t so brilliant and shaping to the course of humanity that you must be right at all costs. Mankind was around before you, and they will be around after you. The idea that 2020 is this terrifying doom, when the only thing to have actually changed in our world is what we, as humans, have put in place, is pretty silly. PEOPLE said we had to wear masks and couldn’t stand next to each other, PEOPLE ground the economy to a halt, and PEOPLE are responsible for almost every “disastrous” thing about 2020. The Coronavirus is a new viral strain, however, we have new strains of sickness that pop up every year. It was our reaction to it, manufactured by people, that created the negatives we’re experiencing. It’s our reaction to one another’s actions and the lines of division we draw over ideas that create EVERY negative we experience. Once again, some lines are necessary; many are not. We’ve never been more interconnected around the globe than we are now, but I feel like we’ve never been more divided either. The hate we harbor for someone simply because they disagreed with us, in many instances, should not be the driving force in our society.
I can’t begin to tell you how many people have trashed me for my conservative or liberal views on Instagram. I make a meme, therefore I am that meme for the moment as someone lights into me with the same, nasty vitriol that I’ve been describing. I am convinced that our very humanity is at stake in this rapidly shrinking world of interconnectivity. Families, friends and loved ones have been cast aside in this war, and I can’t help but think of the many times it’s been over an argument that is simply someone’s opinion in the first place. I could go on and on about theory and how little we actually know in relation to hard truth’s, but that tangent would take far too long to write on. The point is, we will “anchor” our thoughts into an idea and base every other thought we have afterwards on this single, flawed idea. If we’re wrong about something, then there’s a possibility we’re wrong about many things, and this is counter-intuitive to our very existence. We must be right, or what’s the point in anything?
Take a moment and reflect on your thoughts and ideas. Then decide if being stripped of your humanity, to condemn and hate someone who disagrees, is worth it. I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want to hate you, or spend a single moment locked in a mental prison of my creation, simply because we disagree on something that’s ultimately fleeting and irrelevant to the direction of my life and happiness. Are your thoughts rational, or do they betray you? Freedom is so vitally important to who and what we are, but what is freedom without humanity? It would be a joyless existence with limitless possibilities to hurt one another and live in suffering.