Hate, Division & Hope
There’s a great Dave Mason song from the seventies with a chorus that goes:
So let’s leave it alone
Cause we can’t see eye to eye
There ain’t no good guys
There ain’t no bad guys
There’s only you and me
And we just disagree
This song was about a romantic relationship coming to an end, but I have always believed in allegory and maybe this particular lyric was a kind of harbinger of things to come.
I’m old enough to remember when differing points of view were discussed in an intelligent and civilized fashion. When nobody just automatically assumed that people with differing points of view were wrong and that their belief was the absolute reality.
We have come a long way since those days. And along the way, our differences of opinion have morphed into resentment and further morphed into dislike and even hatred for those who don’t think the way we do.
I know this, because from time to time, I have become a victim of this trend. But the simple fact is that no matter how fair-minded we might consider ourselves to be, we can all easily be goaded into rage.
We can easily lose our objectivity and respect for those who think differently than we do.
How This Came To Be
People are not born leaning one way or another. And for the most part they do not grow to adulthood that way. But there are influences, parental, educational and political, that work to shape our view of the world and what we end up believing as adult.
I am a non-religious entrepreneurial, liberal-minded humanoid.
I got to be non-religious by being raised Catholic and being taught that God was omni-present. So one day I concluded that any faith I had in a god did not require belonging to a church. So I left and developed my own views on spiritualism.
The working world taught me that taking orders from people did not suit my nature, so I put in my 20 years and left to work for myself.
I observed the political system in this country for a number of years and decided that Liberal governments generally did a better job of taking care of the people while Conservative governments did a better job of taking care of the corporate interests, often times at the expense of taking care of people. So while I never became a card carrying Liberal, I definitely leaned that way.
Not surprisingly my kids turned out to possess many of this same attitudes.
I became a writer and and entrepreneur. My daughter became a writer and my son an entrepreneur. Both are not what would call religious and both care about people more than they do institutions.
For the most part whatever you are, you pass along. I have known people who are haters whose kids have become the same. I have know ruthless capitalists whose kids have become the same. I have known humanitarians whose kids have become the same.
Then There’s The Internet
I was raised on TV. The Internet didn’t really come along until I was in my early 40s. And compared to the Internet, TV, as a tool for shaping attitudes was nowhere near as powerful, although you could credibly argue that TV really did help create the counterculture that influenced and reshaped the world’s attitude toward war and politics.
When the Internet began, a lot of people thought it would have, more or less, the same cultural effect that TV had. But those people radically underestimated its real power.
Because the Internet had something that TV, as more or less a one way medium, did not have, which was a high level of inter-activity. It was not just an entertainment or political or commercial medium. It was also a communications tool.
And because it was an extremely effective communications tool, people on both sides (left and right), made ample use of it to shape and influence opinion.
The Hate Divide
You could argue that differences of political opinion have existed since the beginning of civilization. And you could also argue that differences of opinion sometimes boiled over into revolutions and wars.
Generally revolutions and wars came about as the result economic inequities of one kind or another. The rich living it up while the poor slaved away making them richer etc.
I believe, and this is just my opinion, that the way the Internet works is on a much deeper level. It allows people who have a certain point of view the freedom to choose how much of the opposing point of view they want to be exposed to and the ability to transmit what they believe to large numbers of people.
This, in turn, has the effect of cultifying them, and creating a high level of ignorance about anything other than what they happen to believe.
The result, as we have seen, is a hatred of anything that doesn’t conform to your own way of thinking, and this is constantly bolstered by the company you keep, so to speak.
Over the past decade especially we have seen this boil up into nasty confrontations, extreme bullying, misogyny, sexism, homophobia, racism and authoritarianism, all of which create cultural chaos.
This is the breeding ground in which dictators are born and grow and very much what we see in all parts of the world including many of the so called major powers.
Follow The Money
IMHO, most of the chaos that is happening in the world has to do with the simple fact that the people who have been making billions and billions over the years from industries that are depleting the world’s natural resources are fighting, by any means necessary, against their own extinction.
The necessity for the world to clean up its act and start focusing on sustainable and renewable technologies is creating whole new industries that are slowly but surely displacing the older ones.
This resistance and the vast PR machine that supports the resistance of old school industries is the single biggest factor in the ideological divide that we are currently living through.
Ignorance Is No Longer Bliss
The last thing these industries want to have to do is to start spending the massive amounts of capital required to re-tool. And the equally damaging loss of share price or profitiability that this would result in.
But evolution is inevitable if we are to survive here on this planet. Everyone with a couple of brain cells to rub together are now starting to witness the cataclysmic effects of unbridled industrial development. And these are just early days.
But the encouraging news is that there are a number of countries who have begun the process of moving to renewable technologies and these are just in their early days as well.
There are only two things that prevent this from happening at a more accelerated rate. 1. Corporate greed. And 2, the fostering of ignorance and hatred that this greed injects into the culture.
Things Will Change Because They Have To
I’m what you call old. I don’t feel very old, but I will be 71 on my next birthday. So my concern is not so much for me as it is for my kids and grandchilden.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a world where a lot of the hate and division didn’t affect me all that much. Even though I know it was there.
But the world we live in today is overflowing with it and it's virtually impossible to avoid. And my hope is that the forces of real human progress will grow to be able to overpower the regressive forces of corporate greed and all those souls who have drunk the Koolaid of hatred and division that keeps them in a state of ignorance, will find an antidote to what has obviously been a very powerful poison.
I know this is going to be a hard rocky road to navigate. But honestly, what other choice to we have.
Jim Murray is an experienced advertising and marketing professional. He has run his own business (Onwords & Upwords), since 1989 after a 20 year career in Toronto as a senior creative person in major Canadian & international advertising agencies. He is a communication strategist, writer, art director, broadcast producer, mildly opinionated op/ed blogger & beBee Brand Ambassador.
Jim lives in St Catharines Ontario (AKA The Quiet Side Of The Lake) and is still working with companies in Toronto whence he came. He is also currently a partner at Bullet Proof Consulting. www.bulletproofconsulting.ca
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