Before the pandemic hit our culture was already sitting at a precipice. A precipice that overlooked a dangerous mindset that has been repeated over and over throughout history which is the dissociative thought of “us vs them”.
Social media, for as much as it connects us through text, it disconnects us from humanity. So much so that we have a whole new name for those who sling insults and cast their vexations from behind the safety of their phone or computer: Keyboard Warriors.
To make matters worse, vast swaths of echo chambers have been created which are not much more than gangs of group thought that capture any person’s natural tendency for compassion and empathy and replace it with an imbrute; savage, uncaring, and self-righteous.
In well known author and researcher Brené Brown’s book, Braving the Wild, she discusses the following:
“Dehumanizing always starts with language, often followed by images. We see this throughout history. During the Holocaust, Nazis described Jews as Untermenschen — subhuman. They called Jews rats and depicted them as disease-carrying rodents in everything from military pamphlets to children’s books. Hutus involved in the Rwanda genocide called Tutsis cockroaches. Indigenous people are often referred to as savages. Serbs called Bosnians aliens. Slave owners throughout history considered slaves subhuman animals.
I know it’s hard to believe that we ourselves could ever get to a place where we would exclude people from equal moral treatment, from our basic moral values, but we’re fighting biology here. We’re hardwired to believe what we see and to attach meaning to the words we hear.
We can’t pretend that every citizen who participated in or was a bystander to human atrocities was a violent psychopath. That’s not possible, it’s not true, and it misses the point. The point is that we are all vulnerable to the slow and insidious practice of dehumanizing, therefore we are all responsible for recognizing it and stopping it.
Libtards, Snowflakes, Science Deniers, Anti-Vaxxer, Anti-Masker, Trumpkins … derogatory slurs that do the work of dehumanizing others so that those of us - and I say us to inspire accountability - using the terminology can unwittingly justify our destructive contribution to this country’s social divide.
Numerous articles have been written even before the pandemic on the topic of Outrage Culture. A phenomenon that was already occurring where groups of peoples are able to find outrage in nearly any person’s slip up, faux pas, or even over a misunderstanding.
The outrage is relentless and can only be satiated by a complete annihilation of the target. Careers, reputation, and even the person’s family can be subject to the attack because those caught up in their outrage have detached from any willingness to listen to anything that sounds different from the words bouncing around in their echo chambers.
It’s been nearly a year since the lockdowns began in California and many other places throughout the country and throughout the world. Our physical disconnect coupled with the strain created by fear and uncertainty has put us over the edge of the aforementioned precipice.
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you,” is a quote by German philosopher Frederich Nietzche that feels apropos to today’s world and what some of us, if we’re willing to admit it to ourselves, have found ourselves a part of.
So what are we to do about this regression of our humanity? We must hold ourselves accountable. At the core of Libertarian philosophy, self ownership is a beautiful yet complex and scary idea that has fallen to the wayside in today’s culture of entitlements, victimhood, and blame.
It is incumbent upon us that we own our actions and our feelings. That you, the reader, see your actions for what they truly are; helpful or damaging. When you speak to others are you speaking to the person, or are you speaking to an avatar? Did you rage against a monster? Or did you converse with someone whom, like you, feels happiness and pain, love and insecurities, hope and loss?
To achieve the real meaningful change you want to see in our world, and to see your causes come to fruition, embrace humanity and reject becoming the very monster you’re out to fight.
Hanford Councilwoman Kalish Morrow is a former business owner who is now a full time interior designer working out of her home while raising her two young home-schooled sons. She has served on the board of directors with Main Street Hanford (2015-2018) and co-founded the 501(c)3 Heart of Hanford with the purpose of helping to protect and preserve Hanford’s historic downtown. She also serves on the executive committee for the Libertarian Party of California as an at-large representative.
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