You know that saying if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all? I always wondered what made some people so deliberately…..nasty towards others. As an author, in order to have some insight into the world in which I and others live, try as I must I can’t avoid the news. My home page is set to MSN so once I get on the internet, that’s the first page that comes up. Let me be honest from the get-go. I’m a comments reader. I like to see what reaction people are having to what’s going on around them and no, I don’t go lurking on the internet prying into other people’s thoughts. I don’t fancy being one of the “shit stirrers” or being stirred for that matter. I pretty much do the same thing at the cinema. I note the reaction or non reaction of others to certain scenes that may be funny, scary, vexing or sad to me. I know what you’re thinking. I spend too much time paying attention to others. Well, in a way yes. Being observant, as I like to call it, have pretty much helped me to keep my hide safe from predators and the like. Anyway, that’s for another topic.
I’m bringing this up because as our world gets smaller; as lines become blurred; boundaries are erased and walls are knocked down, our penchant for intolerance, fear, prejudice and downright hatred of anything unfamiliar has become more obvious. Don’t get me wrong, the human race has a disgraceful history of what fear and/or hatred of the unfamiliar can bring about. Out of respect for the victims of that dark history, I will not mention them here, but you’d have to be living under a rock to not know to what I’m referring.
You’d think we would have learned from those days and try our damnedest to avoid leaving a stain like that on our species but nope. If I had the power to communicate with every one who posted a snarky, insulting or beastly message on Twitter, Facebook or any social media (YouTube is the prince of them all. You should see what goes on in there), I would ask, “Is it so difficult to present your opinions and thoughts in a respectful manner? Does it hurt to utter words that are not dripping with bile and venom?”
We’re supposed to be creatures of higher intelligence. We’re supposed to be able to present our thoughts and ideas with respect for ourselves and those around us. At school, in English class we learned to write argumentative essays. A good essay was one that presented both sides without demeaning one or the other. Similarly, in debate competitions, any attempt to make derogatory comments about the opponent would immediately get you and your team and your school disqualified. Politicians are the worst examples at debating. I don’t know about the rest of you who may or may not be reading this, but I wouldn’t trust anyone who spent more time mud-slinging instead or trying to convince me that he/she is the best person to manage the country’s affairs.
I sometimes wonder what it would be like if we were to shut down all social media outlets, barricade the invisible doors, build back those walls between races and cultures. Would we be better off? Would we be nicer to one another if we only had to deal with that which is familiar? Or is it too late?
The human race has already clocked past 7 billion. The world is getting smaller. I don’t believe we can afford to create conflict when really none is necessary. Imagine two hundred very angry people in a room the size of your bedroom. Care to guess what kind of experience that would be? Of course if your bedroom is the size of a football field then you won’t have a clue what I’m talking about. Those of you who can imagine this, expand your eyes afield a bit. There are 7.2 billion people living on a planet that’s choking and suffocating under our collective weight. Add the weight of our malcontent and you have a disaster waiting to happen. I don’t think we can stop wars by simply being courteous. I’m idealistic, not delusional. But it’s a start. I’d prefer we start somewhere than go nowhere.
We’re a difficult species you know. Complex, brilliant, inspiring and deadly. That’s a lot to deal with. The hard knocks of human co-existence can be softened by just saying something nice. No need for sonnets and poems and ragas and ghazals. You can keep it simple. And if it hurts to be nice or polite or respectful, just say nothing at all. Trust me, no one will mind.