You know what, probably 95% of the time, I approach the world with an ‘each to their own’ kind of an attitude. If you’re cruising along, doing your thing, not hurting anyone, then peace be with you.
I’ve read enough, studied enough, taught enough, travelled enough, listened enough, and just lived with my eyes open enough to know that everyone’s experience of the world is different. We are creatures shaped by genetics, upbringing, relationships, education, and experience and no one of us is exactly alike. I have my truth, you have yours.
I might not always agree with your view of the world. I might think you’re a bit quirky or that your way of being in the world wouldn’t work for me. You might be one of those rare people who sets my teeth on edge right from the moment that I meet you and I might struggle to appreciate your perspective at all. But even if I think you’re a right tosser, I’ll still try to take a leaf out of Atticus Finch’s book (it’s To Kill a Mockingbird) and try to walk around in your shoes for a bit. Possibly not for very long, might not do up the laces, but I’ll give it a go.
Very zen of me, I know. Just let me tuck away my rosary and put a marker in my book of daily meditations so I can continue.
This past week has challenged my ‘each to their own’ philosophy. In fact, challenged might be an understatement. There may have been some barely disguised scorn and the hint of indignant rage.
Because, honestly, what the hell is wrong with some people?
Sometimes I get online and I feel like we’re living in strange kind of reverse-Enlightenment period. Where once we strove towards awareness and wisdom, actively seeking out information in order to broaden our understanding of the world, it seems like too many people are doing the opposite. Wilful ignorance. It’s a bit of a paradox given we now have unprecedented access to all of the knowledge we could ever want or need. The capability to research, to critique, to challenge our beliefs, and to compare sources of information is quite literally at our fingertips.
Can one exist on an intellectual diet consisting of click-bait, animal memes, and inspirational quotes? Apparently, one can.
Can one base life changing decisions that have an impact not only on one’s nearest and dearest but also upon society as a whole on said diet? Oh, yes indeedy, one can and does.
And does one spread the tenuous basis of these decisions around, willy-nilly, on every form of social media one can access? Of course. Every freaking day.
In this age of individuality, where subjectivity is King and anyone’s opinion and perspective is as valid and correct as anyone else’s, it seems like we’ve lost sight of the fact that there are, indeed, facts. Things that cannot really be contested, no matter who you are and what your experience may be.
Some things are true.
They are real.
They are proven.
Objectively, empirically, scientifically, statistically, proven.
Gravity. Evolution. Smoking is bad. Vaccinations are good. People with depression benefit more from medication than they do from a walk in the sodding park.
You know, that kind of thing.
I completely respect your right to an opinion. But that doesn’t mean you’re right. And if your opinion means that you’re sharing information that is dangerous or bigoted, then I’m abandoning my ‘each to their own’ policy and I’m going to call you on it.
Ignorance (as a wise man once told me) is not always bliss.