“I’d far rather be happy than right any day”– Douglas Adams
We get addicted to the stories we are spinning. It feels good in our minds to “figure it all out” or “be in the know.” Somehow we believe that if we know what is happening we will be safer from it. I can definitely see the allure of that type of thinking.
There is so much fear in the not knowing that it causes us to defend our theory, sometimes to the point of alienating our friends and family who do not agree with us. There is so much more fear when we feel we don’t know what is happening, so we tend to fill in the blanks with information we have collected, heard or read that “makes sense” to us or fits into our story. This information is not always gathered from reputable sources, but as long as it aligns with what we want and further serves to prove our point, we will push it at anyone who contradicts us.
I see people espousing some of the strangest, most far-fetched ideas just to continue believing their theory is correct. I imagine it is a way for folks to maintain an illusion of security by being able to name a villain and call them out. It just seems to me that we are neck deep in a wave of mass hysteria, because so many of us have a pathological need to be right – and to shed some of the fear we feel with the current state of the world.
However, one of the problems with that is the incessant need to keep validating our theory. Once we have decided we know what is happening and have invested our emotional self in our theory, we become attached to it and struggle to see things from a different perspective. This is a dangerous and often destructive habit.
I will admit I believe there is much going on behind the scenes that I am unaware of. We are all in that boat. Yet I see people on Facebook, Twitter and various other social media platforms that are absolutely certain that what they believe is reality and anyone who does not agree with their perspective is “blind,” “an idiot,” “sheep,” or immoral. So much of what is being said on social media and, for that matter, in our more traditional news outlets is said to heighten emotions and escalate regular decent human beings into a frenzy of fear and paranoia.
I am seeing so many families and friendships torn apart by what is happening in our country between our political climate, the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19. It is a strange sort of tragedy that all of these things are happening to us. What is happening right now in our country is a divisiveness that I never thought was possible. I was wrong. But to me, this intense divisiveness also means that it is possible for an incredible cohesiveness to occur as well. It makes a certain kind of sense akin to the notion of not being able to feel happy without experiencing feelings of sadness – of not appreciating the light if there is no dark.
These are dark days for certain. We are all participants in the experience, perhaps not personally but certainly as a culture. There is a war of misinformation that is so widespread that the actual truth, when it is reported or revealed, is often met with cries of fake news by whichever side is opposed to it. There is so much spin on the truths out there it feels like we are on a bad carnival ride that won’t stop, causing this ever present feeling of disorientation and sickness to our stomachs by simply checking our Twitter feeds.
So what are we to do to slow down this crazy roller coaster gone off the rails? Well, I feel like we can start, at the very least, by bringing civility back into our conversations…even with those whose views are diametrically opposed to our own. This seems hard, impossible even. It is, however, the only way. All of this hatred and name calling is destroying us, our families and our communities. We have to stop yelling and screaming at each other for a minute and just listen. We don’t have to agree with everyone else’s perspective, but maybe we can learn something if we actually listen to what is being said rather than silently preparing our next defensive comeback. We may walk away not feeling any differently than we did at the beginning of an exchange of ideas, but at the very least we can walk away with our dignity in place – and allow the other person to maintain their dignity as well. And maybe we can take back a small piece of our humanity too.
“Discussion is an exchange of knowledge, argument an exchange of ignorance.”– Robert Quillen
I hope you enjoyed this post. Please let me know in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.
If you are interested in my personal blog it can be reached here. Sending you all love and light!