"Hi! Can I speak to management?"
"Yes, let me put you on hold."
"Hello, this is The World's Management speaking."
"Hi... Who the fuck is in charge?"
"What do you mean?"
"Yes. I look around and people want to eat the rich. Gays and straight are judging each other all the time. Conservatives and liberals are yelling. Whites are being racist again. The other day I ordered a 'tall' coffee at Starbucks and a college girl accused me of discriminating against short people."
"I'm sorry sir, but that's just how things work nowadays."
"But isn't progress supposed to be like... forward?"
"Lol. That's mainstream. We're doing 1850s for the foreseeable future."
"That makes no sense! Why?!
"It gets the people excited. We were all bored but now this is fun."
"It can't be fun to everyone though. Real people are struggling. Right?"
"Oh but even they get a kick. It's all about finding the one thing that makes you feel good and sticking with it. Then blame everyone else who doesn't share that perspective. Lol."
"Shit... Thanks." I say to her as I hang up, confused. I then, in autopilot, open Twitter and get caught up reading how strangers argue over something they don't understand, and for that matter, neither do I. "Why does no one do anything about this?" I think as I keep scrolling.
We can find a million acts that created and perpetuate this state of affairs. But in such a complex system, it might be more productive to talk general terms, so I'll start there. We need more tolerance, more listening, less judging, and above all else, we need less certainty.
One aspect we're all very certain about is our ideologies. Ideologies can be and mean many things, but one thing they are not is "inherently justified" Yet we treat them as such. We defend them like it was God himself (herself?) who came down from Mount Olympus with a license to ideologize and steamroll the world with it.
Let's give an example: I know many people, especially older people, who don't agree with people being gay. The obvious fact aside that this isn't something to be "agreed upon", it is somewhat obvious why they don't "agree." First, it is foreign to them because it was less accepted in older times. Second, they subscribe to a religion and the ideology that comes with it, and that religion says: "You shall love your neighbor (except if they love their neighbors of the same sex particularly more)." Or something like that, it's honestly hard to remember all 1000+ of the Bible. Anyways, their ideology does not only act as this tainted lens through which they view life, it is also a shield that prevents them from experiencing life as it is. Because instead of sitting down with and getting to know that man who loves a man, their judgment creates distance.
There are many flavors to ideological blindness. In politics, for instance, left and right segregate physically by living in different places. So we think the other side is what the internet says they are, which represents the few loudest voices, but we fail to meet the actual other side, yet we're certain that we do. So my question is, when did ideologies become more important than relationships? I can think of a couple of epochs marked by hyper-ideological thinking, but why bring up Nazis now, this is a happy post. Put it differently, my question is, what happened to the whole "I disagree with you, but I like you and we get along"? Why do we have to agree to connect? People are complex and the world is complexer, there's no way to have complete alignment with one another. And that should never be the goal because complete alignment means either or both of the following fallacies: (1) we actively look for only those who share our worldview, and/or (2) we hide parts of who we are to only express those parts that align with the rest. The first is a bubble, the second is suppression, and together they are a suppressed bubble! You heard it here first.
The poet Dave Chappelle said it best:
Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe, say or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
And why is "certainty" at the center of this problem? Because when we remove certainty we invite humility into the party. The humility necessary to think: "what if I'm wrong?" The crack opened up by that question is enough for other people and other ideas to enter. If you were looking for something to fill that void you claim to have... maybe this is it.
As the lame saying goes "can we all just get along?" Or at the very least, not dislike each other actively? I know we can. Loosen up your ideals and beliefs and focus on connecting instead, because at the end of the day you will die and if you only surround yourself with those who align with you completely, there won't be any people to even remember you, and those ideals will die with you.