Kill them with Kindness

9 November 2016

Facebook rhetorically asks me “What’s on your mind?” … this is what I’ve been thinking this evening. Mind you I got two hours of sleep last night so this is maybe a substitute dream. However I offer it as maybe a candlelight in the darkness?

I think everyone perceives themselves as fundamentally good and their bitterness at not being appreciated fuels hostility and anger so… writing think pieces about how “Canada is no better” or pointing out that “it was the white vote” (implying a by default white racism) is like literally not helping; rather it’s actual fuel for the fire.

If you want to change the world, be nice to people; show respect and appreciation for their points of view. Don’t automatically write them off because they express ignorance — they literally don’t know any better. Help them see that there’s potentially more good in the world than harm.

Also, as Westworld says, “these violent delights have violent ends”. There’s a delight in cruelty right now expressed in the bashed heads of the Walking Dead season opener and the routine violence of Game of Thrones, to say nothing (and take for granted) video games and the horror movies of the past forty years. I’m old enough to remember the “moral panic” of adults over this stuff thirty years ago, and I’m thinking, yeah, looks like they did know what they were talking about. Those adults probably had living memories of The Depression and The War.

Those things are actually Art since they’re cultural expressions, and it’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing as to what’s feeding what at this point. I don’t believe in any form of censorship, but I believe in taste, in that one should chose things that are more life affirming. Maybe our violent delights should be treated like porn — a given for adult life but one that is treated with discretion and privacy. Accept that there is an appetite for violence and give it a controlled outlet but mix in a bit of potential embarrassment.

A great many adults now have no decency or dignity. A message is out there that this is like the 1930s, that the shadow as once again fallen on society. But societies are just a collection of people behaving together, and there’s nothing mystical about any of this. It is simply that have once again we collectively have let standards slip too far, and let Powers that Be get away with too much. Western Civilization has been losing its shit regularly since the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ there’s nothing new there. And despite contemporary secular atheism it was Christianity that tamed ancient Europe and brought the ideas of justice, conciliation, respect, and dignity to our society over the centuries. That happened through weekly meetings passed on through generations. People were exposing themselves to these ideas from cradle to grave. There was a cumulative effect, despite the obvious double-standards, racisms [sic], and cruelties. A lesson from this is that we can teach each other how to be better people, it need not be treated as requiring miraculous conversions. Nor does it require the Church at this point — just regular exposure to affirming ideas, which is what Culture used to try to do. It seems evident that Norman Lear’s shows in the 1970s had a great effect in allowing a social conversation that progressed society, whereas, again we’re at skin dangling from baseball bats.

But anyway, seems obvious there are a lot already who are beyond helping and were this 1936 their fate would be that of canon fodder or of Nuremberg.

I always found Jack Layton’s “hope is better than fear” as the trite rubbish of a dying man and gaged whenever I’ve seen it quoted in a social-media timeline, but it is true after all. The thing is though hope and fear are emotions, they are weather that pass through the mind. A thirsty person can hope for water and die of thirst; it is the person who actually drinks who lives. Obama’s, “be the change you want to see in the world” has instead always resonated with me because it makes sense: act-as-if the world were a good place. Set an example. Show people how. (I’m not perfect by any means, and I probably fail at these ideals more than I succeed, but ideals are merely the North marker of our moral compass).

People are hurt and angry and the example of ugliness and moral corruption is everywhere. As difficult as it is and will be, kill them with kindness.

Document History
  1. 9 November 2016: published as a Facebook post
  2. November 2016: cross posted to Medium