This week, we finished reading aloud from Edward Abbey's One Life at a Time, Please every morning and now afternoon (at 115ºF too hot to do things outside). One essay was on Ralph Waldo Emerson, and he chose some quotes from Emerson to share. The ones that resonated most with me were chosen from his essay Self-Reliance and there were several.
"It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."That is so powerful for our time. It is so much easier to find a bubble and settle into it to express only views that suit the bubble. Do bubble fans think when they are alone that maybe some of what the group wants is not really what they want? All I know is that when I express my viewpoint in a group that sees things differently, it can turn nasty fast. The ability to discuss issues is gone when only one side can be right and good (and believe me both sides see it that way today). To compromise is evil.
Recently an ideology group (I prefer not using names to avoid trolls showing up) went into where diners were eating outside due to the virus. They demanded that the diners raise their arms in a closed fist to assure agreement with their ideology. If they didn't do it, they would take their pictures and put them up on social media to shame them. Silence was defined as racism.
From what I have seen, many have become fearful of this accusation and must agree that racism is everywhere, that every white person is a racist. I don't think they demand that all colored people must be one. It's all about white privilege, which is apparently being taught in our schools.
Shouldn't it be up to each of us to look into our hearts and decide if we operate with racism? If we have spent a lifetime seeing people by their actions and not judging them by their skin color, does that make us a racist?
I can't remember if I wrote here about cognitive bias. The first time I heard about it, the word bias went beyond what we are against but also what we are for. What experiences have led us to interpret events certain ways? If someone walks toward you, do you automatically see them as one way or another for a danger? It might save your life if you evaluate your biases fairly or lead you to needless fear if you don't.
Cognitive bias is followed by confirmation bias. This is where we reinforce our beliefs by hanging with those who will affirm us. This is particularly prevalent on social media and where we go for news.
When I go to Facebook, I see memes to inspire hate or anger-- aiming both ways since I have friends on both sides of the divide. Recently the Senate put out a report on the Russian troll farms and what they are attempting to do. Basically, it's that left and right, they create memes that they believe will stir people up in a negative way. The goal is to cause dissension in our country. I am not sure what that gains Russia, but i know it doesn't do us good. But here's the thing-- if people didn't pass these things on, they'd not be effective. Even if you only pass on those that you know your bubble will appreciate, you might be adding to anger or fear. What does that gain you or them?
Back to Emerson's words, written so long ago, do you dare speak out what you feel when you are meditating on what's going or are you driven to suit the mob-- and yes, sometimes, it's a mob. One woman at a restaurant told them that she agreed with their goals but would not do the fist bump. Brave woman.
Finally from Emerson: "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles."
We should all make sure we know what our principles are and whether they help the community or hurt it.