Being Right is More Than Being Right.
In which I crack it, do a Moses and ask, before all of us fight about who is right lets work on getting along.
I have cracked the shits so I was wanted to create ten new commandments for the world in this blog but I thought that was a bit cocky even for me. Tablets of stone and all those thou shall nots are a bit too much and awfully negative. Not to mention completely against the spirit of the things I wanted to say. I didn’t want to be commanding rather suggesting. The Ten Suggestions doesn’t have quite the same punch but lets see how we go by the end.
About 100 years ago W.B. Yeats wrote a poem called The Second Coming. There have been a number of lines that have been quoted fro that poem over the years by all sorts of people with all sorts of agendas. For a while it was these two lines that were often quoted, usually in leadership and staff bonding training courses, “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” But lately the popular line has been “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.”
Obviously the popularity of the above has grown greatly in the current political environment where western democracies around the world are seeing their electoral representatives and indeed their electorates become more and more polarised towards either the opposites of left or right wing, conservative or radical, free market or interventionist, internationalist or nationalist, iPhone or Android, religious or atheist, Superman or Batman, craft beer or good beer etc.
But are things really that bad? In the case of beer yes, yes it is. But what about the other stuff? The other things above that might actually be more important. To me and I guess to a lot of other people it certainly seems that we are in a shitty period but I think there are a lot of positive things happening here. Things that in the long term and I mean at least a few years might actually be steps on the way to a better world.
Mind you there also seems to be some people who really do want to turn clocks back decades if not centuries so we can revisit early 20th century dictatorships or fetishised monocultures or feudal empires and others still who just want to tear it all down and smash it up into some kind of Walking Dead wasteland. I don’t think these types of people will win and have their visions become real but we will go close.
There are few things that we all can do to help stop these things happening and they are just as important to the future of western democracies as the continued washing away, like a dirty stain, of all those isms and phobias like racism, sexism and homophobia. Strangely these things may seem counterproductive and contradictory but I really believe we have lost or started to undervalue them at our peril.
First of all, for all of our technology and rich imaginations we still have only one place where humans can successfully survive and that is this planet. We all need to remember that we have to get along as there is still only one planet Earth. We need to remember that we all have an effect on how well our time here continues for everyone into the future.
Secondly, despite its faults Western democracy beats on the other systems of government by a country mile. I cannot believe the results of polls where quite a high percentage of young people regard democracy as not the best kind of governing system. I would rather be here and now than in another Nazi Germany, Communist Russia or a theocracy i.e. a real life Handmaid’s Tale Gilead. Western civilization has been copping some shit lately about some of the horrible things that occurred during the Empire building years of the 15th to 20th centuries. Yes we treated and continue to treat indigenous peoples and cultures around the world appallingly. And yes we should express sorrow, remorse and ask for forgiveness and most importantly do better but in the end what’s done is done. Continuing to punish others or ourselves for past deeds no matter how bad is counter productive. Lets get on with fixing the problem.
We have lost the civility and mutual respect that makes this improvement possible. People like Trump are not very nice and out of step with my values and how I see the world. But the solution is not name calling. First of all it achieves nothing and smacks of the same arrogance and intellectual laziness that brought about the problem. Its all very well not to appease the bully but the bully is us. Trump didn’t pop up as President from nowhere like a mushroom in a field. He was voted there by a large number of people who feel that their needs are not being met. If we think Trump is not the correct solution then in a democracy we need to convince those people in a constructive non-demeaning way that there is a better way. Doing a De Niro and saying Fuck Trump on TV is childish and counterproductive. Some Australian comics need to learn this too. Doing satire is harder than it looks.
In Australia if you want to demean anyone from the right you question his or her intelligence. To demean the left you criticise their character, values or their unaustralianess. These two tropes say a lot about where the starting point for harmony could be if we want to move forward.
It might also be a good idea if we did harden up a bit as well. I know this is easy to say as a middle class white male, I know the world is still my oyster and we are a large part of the problem but Martin Luther King understood that justice could be fought for in a number of ways. Reacting with an escalating response to every disagreeable comment and situation will again achieve nothing but more polarisation and conflict. Remember not everyone is happy with change. This can be for a number of reasons, some selfish some not but for change to occur persuasion and time will do more than insults and aggression.
Its not meant to be easy. Social media is just an echo chamber for whatever tribe you are in. We are all guilty of preaching and even worse having a big reach around with the converted. Piling on might make you feel good about yourself but usually achieves fuck all.
And by the way rights bring responsibilities and just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean that you should. Or to put it another way if you have nothing nice to say just say nothing. All of the above is all worth considering with regard to the Senator Leyonhjelm and Sarah Hanson Young incident. There is no doubt his behaviour is reprehensible but he gains currency through generating outrage and how to respond needs more careful thought than escalation and threats of lawsuit. It is surely a sign of how bad things have become when this is what passes as politics and no one pulls him up on the basics of his lack of basic manners and civility.
Next is the troublesome problem of religious fundamentalism or really just organised religion full stop. Someone came up with the brilliant analogy - “ Religion is like a penis. It is ok to have one and be proud of it but don’t wave it around in public.”
Nothing more needs to be said. Can religious people of all persuasions please take note.
And believe science and scientists. Science got us to where we are today. Science made these computers and the Internet and just about everything else. You should believe experts and if you are an expert doing your best in your field you deserve to be believed. Sure humans make mistakes and science is always discovering and refining but for fuck’s sake this growing distrust and disbelief of science is the craziest thing in human civilization for a long time.
Capitalism goes hand in hand with democracy but unlike democracy, which needs to be unfettered, capitalism unrestrained becomes a real problem.
It is a system based on endless growth and there always being winners and losers. That is the way it is but if the only aim of all the players in the game is to have the most toys at the end then we might need to have a think about what we are doing. Australia used to be more caring but we are fooling ourselves if we think that now days we still care that everyone gets a fair go.
Use your brain and practice critical thinking. By that I mean developing and using the skill of objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement. Everyone is allowed and indeed should have an opinion. Just make sure you put some work into getting it.
That’s it then. I guess I could have just listed the below but it is a blog after all not a tweet.
The Ten Suggestions
Be Earth Aware
Hold Your Head Up
Ask for Forgiveness
Learn Critical Thinking