Tuesday, 8 February 2011

While you were out: World Peace achieved

As a few of my co-workers returned from lunch the other day, one of them asked, “Anything interesting happened while we were out?”  Without missing a beat – and I’m still not sure where it came from – I responded, “World peace was achieved!”   I followed up with, “I wish!” and we laughed it off.  But, nonetheless, it got me thinking that there are days when you just want to close your eyes and open them...Voila!  Everything is in its place and all is right with the world. 

Well, at least, your world.

Given the plethora of things that can (and do) go wrong on any given day, it’s amazing how most of us manage to keep it together.  True, things are not always in ‘the-sky-is-falling!’ mode, but, sometimes, when you do try to take it one day at a time, as that old quote says: “Some days seem to attack you all at once.”

And that’s just in your 2x2 zone.  Look outside of that and you become aware of people and their hurts and their despair and their voicelessness.  Yes, there’s lotsa beauty to behold, but we’re not talking beauty now. At this moment.  We’re talking about the ugly and the fact that, in many circumstances, it doesn’t have to be.

The Hiding
What makes it worse, however, is that some of us, with our multiplicity of media, including social media, and platforms from which to speak, take advantage of that.  Even – and especially – when we shouldn’t.  It’s pretty easy to hide behind…okay, let’s say use pseudonyms and monikers and what not, as we comment on news items and so on.  (After all, I use - not hide behind - Cee Dubya. Well, it kinda started off as kinda hiding behind, but for the apprehension of dealing with negative criticism.  Now, I just use it - and should perhaps add my real name to future postings...oh the digression.)  But it becomes “hiding behind” when we lash out at other faceless and sometimes real-nameless persons.  There’s a theory my sis has mentioned and I’ve forgotten what it’s called. It seeks to explain that the more far removed you are from your ‘target’ the harsher you are prone to get.   And we see examples of that every single solitary day as we comb the comment boards on various sites – mainstream and other media alike.   People say really mean and ugly and harsh things to their fellow human beings; things that they would never say to them in person, but for the fact that they are remaining anonymous.  Kinda like an ‘average Joe’ with a gun, isn’t it?  Wouldn’t be confrontational in a situation, much more fight it out.  Yet, standing behind a .38 calibre (Way too much TV here.  No, wait!  Maybe, it’s just the news) he is Mr. Tough n Ready.   

Because we can?
So, folks hide and hit and run off to the next story and the next comment board.  This past week, this issue was brought to the fore by way of a rather sad piece of news.  Looking through an edition of the Jamaica Observer, I came upon the story of a gentleman who had passed oh so suddenly, a day short of his 70th birthday.  He had climbed an ackee tree and met his end when he fell and suffered head trauma.  Now, what took me aback were a few of the comments.  They not only questioned his decision to climb a tree at that age (I didn’t know the man, I have only read accounts that he was strong and in good health), but also insinuated that he was stingy!  That he could have paid a younger person to do that blah blah blah.  And I’m thinking, are you nuts?!  Does your elevator go all the way to the top?  Because, unless you’re, y’know, clueless, you would understand that the probability of family members reading the story, and its online comments, is very high.  What would possess someone to offer condolences in one breath and criticize the person for causing-his-own-death-because-he-was-stingy in the other? ‘Two’ words: un believable.   How would you imagine the family members felt upon reading those comments, or, for the much older ones who are not too computer/Internet savvy, having the comments read to them?

The Ugly: Co-created by...
There are a few times when we say things that we regret, even as the last syllable is leaving our lips.  A kind of similar thing happens when we write – especially in haste.  When we write, however, we have a little more wiggle room.  If we’re still in the pen and paper mode, we can ‘white out’, cross out…you get  the idea.  At our computer, we almost invariably have the option of backspacing/deleting before we hit ‘post comment’.  Could we at least re-read our comments about things of such a sensitive nature before we post?  How are they likely to affect the real people concerned?  As another sis pointed out, the affected family aren’t actors in a movie.  They are real people.  We might be standing on top of our podium – tap tap, is this thing on? – clearing our throats and uttering our rhetoric for all of cyberspace to hear.  But, to whom it does concern, how helpful is our speech?  How much of the ugly do we help to create?  (And then bicker about later?  But that’s for another post.)

We breathe the same air (part of a fav line from Mr. Monk and the Astronaut)
I just imagine this scenario in many other situations and the multiplier effect.  Just one of the reasons for the elusive “World Peace”.  (Do beauty contestants still make that wish?)  At the risk of sounding sanctimonious, I humbly posit: Let’s be kinder, even when online, even when using a moniker and especially in really sensitive situations.

It may not seem like it’s covering a wide geographic area, but, where we have a personal test of our humanity, let’s win!  Let’s begin, in our own world, to reduce the ugly and to increase peace.  ‘Cause, in case you haven’t yet realized it, our worlds are connected - and we breathe the same air!


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