I took a short break from social media. It did me good to step away from the drama, and look at my beliefs with a critical eye and decide what was important to me, and if I truly believed them enough to stand on those beliefs.
The truth is no one knows everything. we’re all learning from day to day, moment to moment. And none of us have all the answers. If we did then there wouldn’t be so much contention in the world. My core beliefs, the things that I hold most dear, have always hinged upon that fact. That I don’t know everything, and I should be willing to examine my beliefs in order to make sure they still hold true.
Oddly enough I learned this lesson in church. I don’t go to church anymore because I don’t consider myself a Christian, but there were many good things I learned there. One of the things they taught in the churches I went to is that you should examine and know your beliefs. It’s based on the idea that when someone asks you a question about the church, or the gospel, that you will have an answer because you know what you believe in. It’s the fundamental belief of most philosophers that if your belief can not stand up to scrutiny then the scrutiny is not the problem. Your belief is.
So I took the time to pars my beliefs and to really hold them up to a light. The belief that violence, outside of self defense, is not the answer. The belief that endless war is not the answer. The belief that EVERYONE has a right to speak, and assemble even if I don’t agree with what they have to say.
I’m not a violent person. I don’t like confrontation, and I don’t enjoy being harassed, but I think I can’t stay silent anymore. And the harassment will surely follow. If anything has been shown to me recently it is this: If you don’t believe in the group think 100% then you are their enemy. And they will hit you, even if they don’t know for sure what you said.
And that’s the point that scared me the most. All of the thousands of people rejoicing that “the nazi got punched” probably never actually watched any of his videos. They probably had no idea what he actually talked about. I know I only have a vague idea, and what I saw I found distasteful and turned it off. But I didn’t feel like punching him over it.
Then there is Milo and the riots. A man who is gay, prefers black men, and talks about equality for all people. Granted, some of his ideas are little out there, but I have yet to see a single thing from him that makes him racist or a nazi. But no one actually listens to what he says, they just listen to what everyone else says about him and believe it without vetting.
If either of these men have ideas that can stand up to the light of day then maybe we should listen. If not then HOLD THEM UP TO THE LIGHT! Poke holes in their ideas. Show people what’s wrong with them. That is the proper response to someone spreading ideas you don’t like. Not punching. Not rioting. Not denying them their freedom to speak.
I’ll leave with this final quote:
“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.” George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings