I have taken to saying very little online of late. I am dismayed by the quality and tone of much of the exchange. I think it is overly simplistic to accuse masses of people of merely virtue signalling, nevertheless, when I was young I used to look around my environment and wonder, in a world of infinite possibility why do so many people elect to have such similar expressions of self? Similar hair, similar clothes, similar opinions etc. It’s a rhetorical question, of course. I understand entirely, my point is that it undermines the power of true diversity, that is, genuinely individual free expression.
Community ≠ Collectivism
We trade far too much of ourselves away for the sake of feelings of belonging and in the construction of our identities. I hope that we will see a future where society is comprised of critically-thinking, self-reliant individuals that take radical responsibility for their own unique expression into the world.
In the meantime, if we could even manage to simply be more civil, considerate and compassionate with each other in our intercommunications it would be a huge step forward.
I grew up in a lifeworld of violence: in the last years of a civil war, in a violent home, a violent social life—violence everywhere. There was immense pressure on me to persist with and propagate the cycle of violence—as a just and empowering act. Which I did as a young child, receiving much praise, but it was also obvious to me that adding net additional suffering to the world could only ever be the lesser moral choice. And despite enormous pressures I choose to be the one who could absorb violence and suffering and not respond in kind. I accept there are practical limits to pacifism, please lets not have that argument. Yes, if my child/mother/lover was suffering an extremely violent attack I would attack and likely kill the perpetrator etc etc. But this in no way extends to the reality of most choices day and daily, where the freedom to act affords us multitudes of opportunities to reduce suffering.
Violence comes in many forms. And I really cannot deal with the tone of debate and interaction I am witnessing online at present. So bitter, so aggressive, so dehumanising. Everyone is suffering people—everyone. Try to remember that. Try to remember that unexpected kindness and compassion can open doors that no amount of force can smash down. Pick your battles wisely and judge every person and every situation on its own INDIVIDUAL merits.
Never in my life have I been reticent to speak out. I am one of the most outspoken people I have ever known—yet it struck me recently that I have become shy, reticent, maybe every slightly scared of speaking openly and honestly online. We are toxifying not only our physical environment, but our networks of communication and information as well. Be mindful of that. Before we destroy even more of what could be beautiful about our world. <3