How far back do you remember? As for me, my memory goes back quite a long way, even if it be in dribs and drabs. I remember what it was like being little, going around with this big mommy person and taking in all the sights and sounds of the world around me. I remember the wonder. I remember the joy of discovering new things. I remember the encounters with other little people like myself, thinking "here's a new friend".
So, when did this all change? Can you remember the point in your life where you started looking at other people in terms of us and them? Whereas before, everyone presented as an opportunity to forge a wonderful new relationship, now all we have is distrust and a cynical expectation of having that person disappoint us. When did we all become so jaded as a society?
Today, people as adults go through life wanting to belong to a tribe. There is safety in numbers, right? Everything has to have a label. We have this innate need to be able to establish an expectation on someone based on those labels. So, you are either a liberal or a Conservative. You're either for something or against something. You are either a like-minded kindred spirit or a foul, evil contrarian.
When did we lose the ability to see the grey rather than the black or the white? When did we become so fearful of one another? If you look at the darkest parts of our history, you will see that the leaders that have exercised their authority over us have manipulated us using this fear. We see it in politics. We see it in organised religion. Heck, we see it in high school. You are either in with the popular kids, or you are someone to be avoided like the plague.
I am a Christian. If you have read a few of my blog articles, you may already know this about me. Yet, I had not been back to church in a very long time. And this is because of people. Whereas God has never disappointed me, people have done so time and time again. It happened so often that I got to the point of not wanting to associate myself with those people. Questions, it turns out, are positively tribal. Nowhere have I experienced the "us and them" dynamic more than in church.
Don't get me wrong. I am not perfect. Far from it, in fact. I find a lot of comfort in following a biblical paradigm as a foundation for my values. But let it not be said that I am a hypocrite. In writing this piece, I am putting my own hard and fast beliefs to the test as much as anyone else's. Is it possible that we can move in a direction where we can once again learn to see the best in others first, expecting them to be good rather than deceitful? For me, it may require a lot of introspection, honesty, and the acceptance of the otherness of others.
People are going to be different. And that's okay. Life would be pretty dull if everyone was a clone carbon copy of everyone else. As I write this, I am single. Apart from my disability, there has to be a reason for this. Rather than wondering what is wrong with everyone else, perhaps I should be taking a long hard look in the mirror? While I can do very little to fix the faults in other people, I can certainly do a lot more to fix the faults in myself. It seems a logical place to start with the man in the mirror, as Michael Jackson so aptly put it.
I am not advocating for people to join the throngs of modern day woke society who throw out the baby with the bathwater in the clearing themselves non-binary. Certain things come in this or that, black or white, et cetera. To deny this is lunacy. But perhaps, while not necessarily standing in agreement or condoning societies obsession with political correctness, we can all take a moment to try to see the other's point of view?
Elon Musk recently bought Twitter for $44 billion, claiming that he wanted to restore the right to free speech for everyone. It wasn't long before even he had to make a call on whether or not he wanted to host someone like Kanye West with all his anti-Semitic tendencies. Rather than indulging the rapper and allowing Twitter as a whole to point out his flawed point of view, he summarily de-platformed him. While I was never a fan of the things that he had said, I maintain that, like Voltaire, we should all defend his right to say those things with our lives. Ultimately, the next person could be us. That is what the problem with Twitter was to begin with, and sadly, even Elon musk has now fallen into the same trap that he decried prior to his purchase of the forum.
At the end of the day, I'm going to do what I have always done. I am going to embrace love. No, not the kind of love that is sung about in pop songs which, not so subtly, alludes to lust and carnal satisfaction. Life is about more than just your next orgasm. I believe that we need to learn how to recapture that which made our first years so magical. We need to find a way to get back to that state of wonder that exists in all of God's creation. Only then, will we see the kind of world that we all yearn for. Is this possible? Can we do it? Only time will tell.