Archive for August, 2016


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.

I don’t know why I bother reading the news. It’s like a smack in the face every time. But what is one to do? Remain ignorant? Pretend that we’re not self destructing? I wonder if the earliest humans thought we’d come to this. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of good people out there, you just have to look carefully and not be blindsided by the idiotic reasons some people use to destroy – everything around them.

I had a dream, (no I’m not going to quote Martin Luther King’s speech), I really  had a dream to travel the world and indulge my curiosity. I remember I got my first set of social and geographical encyclopedias. It wasn’t a complete set, there were certain letters missing and they were fifty years outdated, but hey, since my parents couldn’t afford  brand new books for school, I wasn’t picky. These weren’t your usual encyclopedias though, they were books about countries; Europe, Asia, Australasia, Africa and they were in alphabetical order (minus the odd few). I pored over these books, soaking up each word in each description, turning the black and white images into full colour in my mind as I travelled through the pages to places I’d never been before. I couldn’t be there….yet, but I told myself some day I would.

Now, the thought of stepping onto foreign soil fills me with dread. I still love travelling but it’s gone from adventure to added security. That dream is dying as countries I’d dreamed of visiting no longer hold that mystery and romance, they no longer entice with the unknown and the untried, instead the unknown in the 21st century can give you an ulcer between journeys.

What have we walked into? Is this the price we pay for being an advanced species? Has the world gotten so small that we can no longer tolerate one another or have our egos just gotten too big for common sense to have any effect on us? Will our futures end in fire before it even begins?

Perhaps someone out there knows the answer. I certainly don’t.

 

 

David Gaughran

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