No matter where you grew up, no matter what you think about me or the world we share, I want you to understand that I love you. You are human and you deserve to be loved, no matter what. We have all absorbed ideas from the world around us and many of these ideas were designed to prevent us from appreciating one another and to promote a false narrative of scarcity that is used deliberately against us all. It doesn’t matter who is ultimately responsible for this, because we don’t need that information to solve this problem. Lets begin with the understanding that I love you as we approach any disagreement we may have.
When I stumble onto a comment thread full of insults and anger, I don’t engage in order to feel superior or prove others wrong. I’m not trying to make them think the same way I do. I’m hoping to convince them to think more deeply about the source of our conflict. Even if we are ideological enemies, I acknowledge they have enough intelligence to engage in the issues and real compassion or they wouldn’t be there in a struggle to make the world a better place. We both want to fix what it broken and that suggests we can find common cause.
If you want to solve the problem of human suffering, it helps to ask the question “who benefits?” from conflict that has been manufactured by the power structure. There is a game the “ruling class” has been winning for centuries and it is called Polarization; a.k.a. “divide & conquer the peasants, keep them busy fighting for the scraps that fall from your table while you grab all the wealth their labour has created and abscond to your bunker on a private island before they figure out how you’ve deceived them and come after you with torches, pitchforks and a noose or a guillotine.” Read history and you will see this play out over and over again when corruption gains a toehold and infects a government.
Greed leads to corruption, inequality and injustice, which causes increasing suffering which can then erupt in revolution which may lead to positive change or create a police state. Fear is the ultimate weapon that is used to keep people under control. The one force that is powerful enough to overcome this vicious cycle is human compassion, as we’ve seen in every successful revolutionary movement in the past century. Solving human suffering requires compassion, which is why polarization and maintaining conflict is so important to the powerful forces of greed, corruption and tyranny. I am learning everyday how to reject ideas that are designed to weaponize fear and preserve the dysfunctional status quo. Whenever I catch myself feeling smugly superior to another person, I stop and think: “How am I allowing polarization tactics prevent me from appreciating this person’s unique gifts and finding common cause with them?”
You may find this hard to believe, but when I engage a person who appears to be ‘troll,’ I can de-escalate from an argument to a conversation just by refraining from insulting them. When I stick to ideas and ignore the results of social conditioning, I can even find common ground – yes, actual agreement on many important issues. My experience tells me we can defeat the powers of corruption, fear, greed and tyranny by weaponizing love and human compassion. If you want to see evidence of how this works, just observe those who care for others.
Think about how conflict is encouraged within and between all kinds of groups:
- Liberals vs. conservatives vs. environmentalists
- Natives vs. colonists vs. immigrants vs. refugees.
- Men vs. women vs. MRAs vs. feminists
- Middle class vs. low wage workers vs. unemployed vs. homeless
- International banks vs. developing nations vs. transnational corporations vs. planet Earth
It is amazing to watch what happens when we start paying attention to what we all have in common. We’re all human and we want life, health and happiness for ourselves and our families and friends. We all want to get along with our neighbours. We want to offer help to those who need it, just as we hope help will be available to us when we need it. We didn’t get to the top of the food chain by defeating larger predators in single combat, but by working together for mutual benefit. If you have more than you need, consider building a longer table instead of a higher fence because human progress is based on cooperation, not competition.
Imagine a world where people are worth more than profits and justice is more important than ‘shareholder value.’ Imagine a world where every institution respected human dignity and the fundamental rights of all people to life and health. Imagine dismantling institutions that poison, maim and kill. Imagine people everywhere sharing their gifts and strengths to end corruption and build a better system based on cooperation instead of competition. Imagine how we can use the power of social media to organize people instead of anesthetizing them.
Do your own research. Learn about anti-corruption legislation. Learn about alternatives to consumerism, like libraries that lend toys, tools and kitchen appliances. Learn about seed banks and urban agriculture. Consider joining a credit union. Every problem has a solution, most have several and you don’t have to pick just one. When you find a idea that you think will make your world a better place, share it with others, because we’re all like neurons in a global brain, transmitting important knowledge far and wide. We can solve all our problems by working together, so lets end polarization. The drums of war are beating, but I have no fear because I have the one defensive weapon that can never be overcome, not even by my death. I have love.