The world is suffering from a hopeless case of unaccountability. For such an ancient world, there is today more than ever a distinct reluctance to grow up, both on an individual and collective basis, it seems.
I started noticing this years ago, when I first joined social media and expressed my views on various subjects. The onslaught that often followed every time I expressed a personal view on a given subject, was sinister to say the least, utterly unjustified, and frankly terrifying. Not being able to express an opinion on a controversial subject is regrettable, but to not be able to say what you honestly think in a democratic country which by definition prides itself in freedom of expression amongst other rights, is clearly the symptom of grave maladies sending our world into a spiral of self destruction: egotism, greed, deception, manipulation, to name but a few.
Our obsession with self drives us blindly to focus all our negativity, self loathing and feelings of failure towards another, based on a difference of opinion. We are willing to vilify a human being and put their character and integrity into question, even though we have never met that person ever; even though we know nothing about that person other than what we glean from their digital print. It’s hardly consistent evidence to base a person’s epitaph on or even dictate their death sentence, digitally speaking.
I have asked myself this same question over and over. What is so very dark in a human heart that when another person’s argument touches a raw nerve, they’d rather destroy that person’s credibility without giving their argument a moment’s thought, than actually have the courage to engage in self-introspection and get to the bottom of why their argument has unnerved them. It seems obvious to me on a personal as well as global level that nearly always, those viciously attacking another as a result of an opinion expressed, are cowardly ‘shooting’ the messenger rather than having the maturity to heed the message, or at least consider it. They are terrified of looking in the mirror to acknowledge flaws; they love themselves too much or as it turns out not enough to face head on their demons, to question their deeply rooted convictions. To do so would mean rocking the boat of their own credibility, self-assuredness; in essence questioning the very essence of who they are and how they live. Life is tough enough as it is, right, so why rock the boat? Much quicker, easier and less effort to trample on anyone who wants to make me accountable for my choices, even when those choices have dire consequences on others who were never given a choice.
Personal growth has reached a new stalemate in this ‘modern’ era of tribalism. ‘Think as I do or be destroyed’ is the new motto for so many today. Character assassination on social media is the new ‘terrorism’. ‘Say as I say or disappear’ is the new standard of righteousness. The defining lines of ethics and morality are at an all time high of blurriness.
Now, take this increasingly common behavioral pattern on social media and scale it up worldwide and to other areas of society such as religion, politics, the natural world. What do you have? An existential crisis of biblical proportions; the end of our world as we know it.
Take for example Greta Thunberg. Thousands of people around the world, mostly scientists, meteorologists, environmentalists, experts in all the relevant subjects have agreed for a long time now that global warming exists and that we are on a path of self-destruction. Even though there is no agreement as to when this may happen, there is consensus in the fact that to continue living as we do is not sustainable in the long-term. What do we do? Anyone and everyone who feels challenged by the argument put forward by Greta and the fact that finally, she has got us all talking and thinking about global warming and the risks involved, feels entitled to embark personally on her character assassination, on discrediting her, shaming her, insulting her. Some are prepared to do anything and I mean anything, in order to divert the focus away from a vital message and focus instead solely on the credibility of the messenger.
We shouldn’t care how old she is. We shouldn’t care whether her parents or anyone else is manipulating her or not, and most certainly, we should be ashamed of ourselves for putting into question her worth as a human being or her potential as a catalyst for urgently needed change, based on the fact that she has Asperger’s. I have read some horrendous attacks directed at her because of her disorder. I have a son with Asperger’s and I can tell you that what he lacks in certain aspects, he more than makes up for in others. He is an exceptional human being and his outlook on things often blows my mind. Like any other human being, he is deficient in certain areas but excels in others. Asperger’s individuals are no worse than anyone else. They are simply different, and being different has to be celebrated and not vilified. Otherwise, our world will stagnate and eventually everything in it will perish. We step on very shaky ground when we dismiss another human being and what they have to say because of their health, creed, sexual orientation, political affiliation or race. But more alarmingly, we lose ourselves and our humanity when we make it our life’s goal to destroy another human being because they think different than we do. The real tragedy here is that in denying the validity of a message by shooting its messenger, we are denying ourselves room for growth, personal fulfillment and we are shooting ourselves in the head also by obsessing with always being right, instead of humbling ourselves and accepting that this world’s only chance of survival is changing our motto from ‘them and us’ to ‘together we can’.