We’re all standing on the shoulders of imperfect humans, and we’re just as imperfect.
We’re angry and bitter. We’re anxious and scared. We’re frustrated and impatient.
Things are not how we want them to be.
Yet, if our ancestors could see us now they would marvel at our situation. We have medicine that can save us from countless diseases. We have devices that can access the knowledge of humanity. We have vehicles that can take us halfway around the world in hours. We have systems of government and protection that allow us to live in relative stability. And we are becoming less and less blind to the biases that have caused us to inflict enormous pain and suffering onto others.
So, why do we feel like there is more injustice in the world than ever?
And why do we think that shaming people is the “right” thing to do or that it will fix anything?
The world today seems filled with gut reactions and self-righteous judgment. Fingers are being pointed and people are being labeled on a whim. We throw around words like “racist”, “Nazi”, or “anti-trans” like hot potatoes. And we immediately assume that if that label has been applied to someone, whatever follows is deserved.
We need to step back for a moment and adjust our spectacles.
What’s true about the world? We know that injustice exists. We know that hate exists. And we know that people have suffered and are suffering tremendously due to them.
But, how we approach these problems matters. The solutions we come up with will define the lives of our children and our children’s children, which means the mistakes we make today will echo far into the future.
Get off your high horse
Whatever you think about the world, you need to recognize that your thinking has been influenced by everything that came before you. You think the way you do, not because you decided to think that way, but because that’s how you learned to think.
We have been influenced by all the events and people in our lives to think the way we do. Not one of us stands alone — all of us are standing on the shoulders of the people who came before us.
So, what does this mean?
It means that when we encounter people who have opinions that clash with our own, we should be cautious — they might have a better interpretation of the world than we do.
Take the situation with J.K. Rowling. She has a nuanced position on the direction that transgender activists are moving the conversation about transgender rights and she’s getting annihilated for it. Slurs and threats are being hurled against her because she refuses to bow to the opinions of those who scream the loudest.
If you read her work, there is no hate in her speech. On the contrary, she shows sympathy, empathy, and compassion for the transgender community and the hardships they encounter. However, she also takes issue with how transgender activists are pushing the conversation forward and she speaks out about that.
The problem with slurs and threats as a response to an opinion we don’t agree with is that their effect doesn’t get us any closer to the truth. They’re a means by which to silence dissenters, not to understand or inform. This type of bullying isn’t going to do any good to anyone because if we make bad decisions based on bad evidence and bad reasoning, people will suffer for it.
The public shaming of J.K. Rowling is only going to lead to a decrease in public discourse due to fear. It’s not going to lead to better outcomes for humans. If we can’t all share our concerns and solutions, we’re going to miss out on the best way to move forward.
How are you so sure your opinions are correct? How are you so sure your opinions are fully developed? How are you so sure that if society actually implemented your ideas people wouldn’t suffer for it?
We all need to get off our damn high horses and have some humility. Humans have been getting things wrong since the beginning of time, and just because we now carry smartphones and have thousands of Twitter followers doesn’t change any of that.
Don’t forget who’s shoulders you stand on
You have the ability to voice your opinion because people have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of years fighting and dying for that right.
But, these weren’t perfect people. If you brought them to a dinner party today, you’d probably be horrified by what came out of their mouths. But none of that would take away from the fact that they helped to move our world toward a better state.
We’re no different than them. We are painfully flawed and we don’t even know it. Future generations are going to look back on us and shake their heads at our stupidity. None of us will escape this fate.
So, instead of doubling-down on your beliefs, allow this message to insert a little bit of doubt into your mind.
Don’t make the same mistake that everyone in the history of the world has made — which is that they were certain they were right.
Instead, recognize that you don’t hold all the facts, that you’re not an unbiased arbiter, and that you’re just as flawed as the people you’re pointing your finger at. And when you encounter a person with a different opinion than you, be curious about their perspective rather than yell in their face.
If you can do this, you’ll have done your part to move our world toward a better state, today and for generations to come.
What better legacy could you leave?
Thanks for reading!