anonymous Asks ...
This is a question about healing our sick society – our mentally ill society I would say. If American were a person she’d need therapy. Is there something toxic about collective self righteousness and outrage? I am so sick of listening to talk radio or news shows with my co-workers. We use morality judgments to feel superior to people with a different point of view. How do you fight against neat and tidy arguments that sound very correct and play into our baser impulses but do not represent the complicated, uncertain and messy reality? I feel like this media-driven poison is responsible for a lot of the hate in our society. We are in a hate spiral that is getting worse and worse and it is going to destroy us. How can we stop this at the level of society?
Loren Gelberg-Goff Says ...
I hear and feel your frustration! Yes, we live in a very fear-based environment, and the media does promote it. While I would love to say that we could cure this problem on a societal lever, I do not really believe that is possible because we do have Freedom of Speech laws. However, we can prevent the spread of this problem by individually choosing NOT to participate in such discussions. The same way we let people know our like, dislikes and tastes in general in terms of topics of conversation we will or will not tolerate, we can do the same on these issues of fear and hate mongering that is brought to the forefront by various media/talk show personalities.
I believe that it is important that each person find his/her own voice in these moments to speak up and state an opinion that counters the fear and hate. Often times people do not speak up for fear of being ridiculed or bullied in some way because of a different opinion. Remember the saying that 'the sure way for hate to thrive is for good men to do nothing...' I believe that all societal changes begin at a grass roots level... We have to be willing to stand up for what we believe is good, respectful, compassionate and loving. This may be an easy message to live with, but it is not often a message that sells and gets energy flowing and advertising dollars as well.
You raise a valid concern and I would recommend that you start locally. You can write letters to the editors of newspapers... write a different kind of blog post... search out blog posts that promote 'loving kindness' good mental health, positive life choices, etc. and support them by sharing these messages on social media with friends, etc. When you are doing something that brings about a positive change you feel more empowered. You may not be able to change your co-workers' opinions and you may not be able to stop the fear mongering media channels, but you do not have to feel beaten down by them either. You can bring your own voice and message to the fray and focus on the good you can do to help heal the toxic messages that bombard you.
This is how change happens and there are voices out there in the media, politics, society and work places that do share your concerns and are doing what they can to counter the fear and hate. Be willing to simply share your thoughts and feelings, NOT looking to change anyone else, simply offering a different perspective. Remember that while you may heartily disagree with what is being said and promoted, you need to accept that those are their thoughts and beliefs. Voltaire said: "I do not have to agree with what you said, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it".
I get that it is hurtful, painful and even at times downright infuriating to hear what people say or agree with, and we'd like to make them stop. Rather than putting your energy to trying to control "them" focus your energy on what you need or can do at any given moment to take care of yourself to keep yourself feeling hopeful, positive, loving and respectful to you yourself and your beliefs. It's not about right and wrong, it's about each person's beliefs. When it is a personal conversation, you can ask the person if he/she would like to hear your take on the issue. They may say no, in which case you get to walk away. You also do not have to listen to what you find painful or distasteful. If the person says yes, then you get to share your thoughts and ideas on an issue. Remember, your goal is NOT to change their mind...that is up to them... you goal is simply to be able to speak up and be heard....
I hope that this is helpful. Please reach out if you need additional support and guidance in bringing about good health to our world. I do believe that this can happen if people share the good messages and not just the fear based ones.