One of the hardest things people seem to be having trouble coming to terms with at the moment is the concept of personal opinion and freedom of thought. Is it the ultimate irony that those who claim to appreciate the warnings of the likes of George Orwell now feel others of opposing thought patterns must be eradicated?
In my opinion it is why the likes of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump have garnered such support in recent years. Do you really think that by making patterns of thought illegal that they will just stop?
To experience the freedom of speech and expression that is so loudly championed by those who would set themselves as intellectually and morally above the average, one has to also learn to offer the courtesy of meeting those standards in all dealings with opposing parties and viewpoints.
The question then is how is it possible to give individuals the opportunity to share their beliefs, however offensive or oppositional to other viewpoints, in a shared society, without reaching the stalemate of confrontation or damaging insults?
At the heart it is simply based on the creation of common goals. Without these, the divisions of belief will destroy the fabric of a diverse society.
Consider a simple fictional example from human history, not chosen to be emotive, more to emphasise the subtleties present in humanity that are glossed over by crass generalisation;
A man from Alabama fights during WWII in Europe against the fascist Nazi regime, he is a devout Christian and leans toward an ingrained racism more so from his upbringing rather than a blazing belief.
He returns to America, raises a family, is a loving father and husband, lives and works in his community and beyond being open in his personal beliefs, would never normally hurt or kill others purely because they stand in opposition to him.
50 years later he begins to read and hear that, according to a voluble portion of society, his views are out of date, invalid and his opposition to these new ‘standards’ makes him an evil person.
The main areas he begins to feel intimidated by are where his firmly held beliefs are attacked mercilessly by the self-same, so called, liberal and or left wing factions who deem anyone with his views “Worse than Hitler”. No matter his deeds or actions, just the fact of disagreeing with one or two of their personal concepts of ‘basic human rights’ classes him as unfit for their view of society.
They have no visible mandate that designates them as morally and intellectually superior people yet their comments espouse a supercilious attitude to those who would contradict them in any way.
- No matter that through experience, his ingrained racism turned to understanding and camaraderie.
- No matter that there is an immense difference between his personal opinions and beliefs and those of someone who would hurt or kill for theirs.
- No matter that he risked his own death to fight against those who DID hurt and kill for their beliefs and in doing so gave the freedom to live to those whose modern counterparts now denounce him.
- No matter that his perspective is one of ensuring his own country is free enough from poverty, deprivation and suffering before it can stand without hypocrisy in helping those from other nations.
So, when it next comes to an election and it is clear that those who have ridiculed, lambasted, denounced and denigrated him stand firmly on one side, where do you think he will position himself?
Given recent highly publicised elections apparent 50/50 split in populations, this same type of story could be written from myriad perspectives; Jew, woman, Sikh, LGBT, Muslim, you name it. In many countries we have been living together for years so should have got past this by now shouldn’t we? Consider having compassion for those who hate as well as those who are hated. Consider the wearing of a religious headdress is no different to your right to wear a bikini so in attacking one you are attacking yourself.
Think before you post another picture ridiculing those whose opinions differ or try to pull on the heartstrings of those who you brand racist yet whose family may have actually hosted one of the ‘Kindertransport’ rather than just posted a photo of a child from Syria with a couple of crying icons. Don’t repost something to strengthen your opinions that you do not know to be true based on empirical evidence. Look into your own country a bit deeper and you will see many equally disturbing situations that deserve the same cries of “How can this happen?” In some ways the fact that equally horrific events pass uncommented each day in a country that designates itself ‘First World’ should be seen to be worse. Their suffering spans all races and creeds so why should your compassion not do similarly?
Accept you don’t necessarily have all the answers. In this way you leave the way open to accept and change if you feel your perspective or views were wrong. Currently people are being inspired to build greater and greater defences to their beliefs rather than spend that time trying to understand other’s. This can only lead to disconnection where there should be connection. Look around at people who have otherwise been friends, torn apart because their pre-existing beliefs have been brought into unnecessary conflict in the public eye. Look at what made you friends and reconnect on that to start rebuilding what is being threatened daily, stability.
Consider if your country, not just you or your circle of friends, is capable and worthy enough to preach to other countries. If you are concerned that the level of intelligence in the voting population is not high enough to appreciate the importance and purpose of voting then perhaps your education systems should be rectified to stop ignorance undermining your ‘democracy’.
Meet ignorance with compassion. Meet anger with strength. Meet hatred with intelligence. Sink to the same level and you will be making the opposition’s point for them. Travel far enough down the path of confrontation and undermining your own society and you will get a demonstration of why those who will then have to fight to protect you deserve free thought (Sadly this may come sooner rather than later).
You will rarely, if ever, change someone’s opinions and beliefs by ridiculing them. You will similarly never elect a representative and balanced government when you are only given a black or white choice which leads to division and disorder. Life isn’t that simple, how is it that elections and people can be portrayed as so?