Over the last week, the terrorism in France has brought out the best and worst in people. While it may seem that this is mainly people who want to bomb and people who want to embrace (with possible dangers), that’s too easy a story. It’s a story of absolutes. It’s us. It’s them. It’s absolutism. It’s poison.
This is the image which draws our minds. Our thoughts. Our responses. It doesn’t capture those thoughts and responses, however. Our reactions to this imagery can be vastly different.
This is a more accurate picture. And even this is entirely dependent on your perspective.
Let’s kill them. We have to stop them. All of them. It doesn’t matter if there are civilians who are hurt. Remember what they did to us.
All you want to do is bomb. To kill. These people are suffering and need our help. They mean us no harm. We can keep the bad ones out.
Both of these viewpoints are painfully biased and naive. They ignore what we’ve learned and what got us to this point. The potential dangers have to be weighed with the human cost and our responsibility because of what we’ve done in the world.
This is often the next step. Name calling. Because those guys don’t understand what’s at stake. They don’t get what’s important to us now.
They’re closed minded. They’re assholes. They aren’t worth talking to.
Many of us are left in the middle while both sets of morons duke it out. What we fail to realize is that we may, in fact, be the idiots ourselves. We are all biased by nature. We’re biased because of who we are, who we talk to, and what we expose ourselves to.
If your first response to an insult is with a word or quote you’ve read then you’re guilty of bias. And if you’re guilty then you’re giving up what you hold dear.
Those at the fringes are full of absolutes. They see the world in black and white. This is us vs. them. You see it in their arguments. Their Likes and retweets. The words which come out of their mouths and fingers. The gears which turn in their head.
These are the patriots and tree huggers. The teabaggers and libtards. They get their jollies from being right while you’re wrong. They deflect instead of answering questions when they’re called out. Their blinders filter out hypocrisy and stances which won’t survive the light of day.
That light of day shows us that the enemies aren’t those at the opposite end of our beliefs. The enemies are those who are at the opposing end of belief itself.
Their leaders have no desire to speak for all of us or to govern a diverse population. They only want their people to win. And to the sites whose tantalizing links we click to absorb more indignation? We’re products they are selling to the highest bidder. Literally.
Here’s the harsh truth. Anyone who regurgitates what they’re told is choosing to give up their freedom. They may be under the impression that freedom is guns, cars, healthcare, or education. It’s not. Freedom is our ability to think for ourselves and apply that thought to how we run society.
If you take an unmovable stance based on what you read and what you’re told then you choose to throw away your freedom.