Thursday, July 7, 2016

Change is not made from the outside.

“Ignorance leads to fear,
Fear leads to hate,
and Hate leads to violence.
This is the equation.”

On September 11, 2001, the United States felt the impact of terrorism in a public and terrifying way.  Where, before, the fighting between religious beliefs had been distantly held across the ocean between seemingly ancient foes, that morning it reached our shores.

When that happened, the country realized we were unprepared.  Unprepared for that type of aggressive and chaotic violence, unprepared for zealotry that had no interest in preserving human life, and unprepared for a response that wasn’t a learned military reaction.  At the core of that unpreparedness, was a lack of understanding and information.  Sure, we accepted that a multitude of religions lived on our planet and even within our borders, but American’s are self-centered.  We only concerned ourselves with our own beliefs and needs.  We wouldn’t be touched by our lack of understanding, right?

Wrong.  So we did what we did best.  We wrapped ourselves in patriotism and fought back.  Right or wrong, who knows?  Action was needed, so action was taken.  In the process, the kernels of ignorance continued to sprout leading to fears of unknown attacks.  More terrorist events were revealed that hadn’t been made public.  More links in the chains of battles behind the scenes which were suddenly visible due to the internet, global connectivity, and social media.  Fear grew and with that… hate.

Hatred for anyone who was assumed to be Muslims or traitors or extremists, regardless of proof.  Judgement based on clothing, religion, and looks became acceptable.  We created a “them” to look out for in our minds.  Even amidst protests, that fear and hatred grew.  Suddenly, people of Central and South American descent were given more than a passing glance.  Citizens or not?  Real Americans or not?  Traitors or not? 

Some looked around and said, “Hey, this is wrong.  We know as a country judging based on these characteristics is wrong.”  But more looked around in fear and thought, “I have to protect myself and my family.  The threat is everywhere.  It could be anyone.”  We like our labels.  Suddenly everyone was being slapped with a tag.  Divides weren’t just racial or religious, but political and patriotic. 
It became acceptable to voice the secret fears and let them breed into a founded belief of dislike, discontent, and hatred.  Attacks on ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation – rising?  Or just being revealed?

Violence over discourse.  Compromise is for the weak.  Never back down or surrender.  Fear everyone.

There is no need to wonder how we got where we are.  We took this journey together.  Eyes wide open with deaf ears and stood motionless as the small injustices grew like tumbleweeds into larger ones.  The nations we used to criticize, we’re starting to resemble.

It has to stop.  And that starts with us.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When did we lose our minds?

I have come to the conclusion that much blame lies in the rise in the power given to the media, in general.  We started letting television and magazines tell us what was wrong with us.  We let them tell us how we were living wrong, raising our kids wrong, eating and drinking wrong...

From the daytime talk shows to the dramas to the movies, how much positive culture was being presented?  There were more shows tearing our societal community down than shows building us up.  Where were the shows praising the brilliant minds on the horizon?  American drive and ingenuity?  The amazing strides immigrants brought to the country?  Put aside faith based programming or educational media, which let’s be honest poor PBS carried alone for how long…

What shows made you feel adequate, competent, and good about yourself as a human being?  Which shows didn’t make you feel too fat, too poor, too out of touch, too…whatever?  As the shows snared us, the commercials continued the effort by pushing products and advice in snapshots aimed at poking you in the eye quickly and handing you a solution (for a reasonable price!) with the other hand.  Solving issues you didn’t even know you had!!

Then the news… the printed papers had worked for decades to prove they were reliable and honest.  Unbiased reporting was a badge of honor…until it didn’t sell nearly as well as a scandal or two.  Television only exacerbated the problem.  The opinion page became television editorials and commentary that the public took as gospel.  Preach! Preach! But only on your side of the aisle… and you have to pick a side.  Compromise is weakness after all.

Who are these people talking at us?  Decades of being torn down by perfect strangers we put on pedestals because they were just perfect enough to get on camera?  What credentials?  Do we even care?  Are we interested in their back story and if they have any understanding of where we come from or how our families have survived in this country?  Second opinions are recommended in medicine, but if you’re coming through that box in my house, well…surely we should listen?

And doctors... out of millions... but one or two could change the world?  Random studies from places with no reputation.  Organizations like the FDC and CDC losing credibility as everyone armchair quarterbacks the community. 

Everyone else’s opinion impacts ours…until social media arises with the anonymity the browbeaten need to finally speak up.  Only, there’s no logical thought and process behind the opinions and speech, just… words.  Sound bites.  The communication style we’ve learned from entire stories in less than 30 minutes and 10 minutes of gunshot advertising.  News thrown at us in 30 seconds.  Only the highlights.  Now, this is common communication…  Well, it’s common speak as communication implies a level of interaction and understanding no one wants to give.

Compromise is death after all.  Community means giving in.  Every man for himself.

When did we lose our minds?  More importantly, when did we lose our heart and humanity?

I know I keep posting this question filled commentaries, but until I find an answer that makes sense I guess I’ll keep asking.  The strange thing is, the media is only as strong as we allow it to be.  It is a monster fed by our dollars.  Our cable, dish, and internet bills pay for the house it lives in while our rabid purchase of advertised goods like lemmings feeds its very soul.  It’s not untouchable, but it is uncomfortable to touch.  It would mean sacrifices we’re not willing to give and changes we won’t enjoy.

I type this on my computer.  I watch our television.  I talk on my cell phone.  I am part of the problem as much as I have the ability to be part of the solution.  It’s not all or nothing.  But it is something other than what we’re doing right now…