As the world hurtles towards fascism, anarchy and war, many may feel helpless in the face of the powerful and broad forces which move us to our assumed demise. But we need not feel helpless, we, each individual within that we, who look at the future with both dread and dismay, contain within us a power to push against the dark forces which surround us. But it will take restraint.
Yes, restraint, not large numbers, not affiliation with a political party, not a louder or more authoritative voice, but restraint: restraint of our anger, our outrage, of our intellectual arrogance. There comes a time when mature voices must rise above the fray and recognize what the fray actually is. It is a conflict between peoples whose views are shaped by their families, their religious upbringing, their rural or urban experience, thought leaders within their sphere, genetics, and finally shaped by political and market forces which spot profitable opportunities in the manipulation of these forces to their advantage.
The suggestion here is for those on the Left to spend some time viewing right wing news sources, and for those on the Right to spend time viewing left wing news sources: not to get angry or to question the authenticity of the journalists who, with due respect, spew their career building vile, but to more adequately understand the forces which shape the views of those in the opponent’s camp. We build intellectual castles within our minds based on the building blocks of information which we consume. The media, both on the right and the left spot profitable opportunities to exploit the anger which they aid and abet. A visit to the news sources viewed or read by the opposition quickly reveals the source of much of our anger. The reporting has become so biased, so outlandish, so lacking in the foundation of truth, no wonder our intellectual castles are about to collapse into the sands of deceit and despair. We are being manipulated into division, because it is profitable to do so.
We can maintain our left and right positions, but we can also commit to the attainment of our objectives in a peaceful and civil manner. Restraint, commitment to peace, civility, reinforces and expands these forces. There are many voices among the old and the young, among those on the Left and those on the Right, which seek leadership through louder voices, greater hate and greater righteous indignation. But it is not leadership to follow the crowd. The opposite path is necessary. To lead in this environment is to stand above the fray, it is to be the adult in the room, to take a stand against the immorality of violence and hate which envelops us.
To counter the anger, the hate, the violence, which we observe in the political opposition with more anger, hate, and violence, does not overcome the forces we seek to suppress, it reinforces them. To mimic the mechanisms used by the opposition expands the spiritual or metaphysical presence of these forces; resort to that which we seek to overcome, does not eliminate these forces, it strengthens these forces; furthermore, it justifies within the opposition continued use of the same mechanisms.
There is an interconnectedness between us. When you exercise restraint, it moves me to do the same, though we do not directly know each other, the similarity in our spirits connects us. When you move towards anger, I am also moved towards anger. When you move towards peace, I am also moved towards peace.
This does not imply compromise in our beliefs or our message, but only in the presentation of our arguments. Winning support among the opposition will never be achieved through the bullying tactics of anger and violence. People are won-over through the strength of moral argument; argument which is undermined by resort to anger, hate, and violence; but which is strengthened through civility and commitment to peace.
We need to develop, on both the Left and the Right, real leadership, not “leadership” which seeks to hitch a ride on the back of the rampaging beast of division and hate, but leadership which listens, which is civil, and which seeks common ground, no matter how small, currently, that common ground may be.