Exorcising the demons…
I didn’t sleep well last night because I was conflicted. I was locked in a debate with myself that stretched into the early hours of the morning, leaving me now reliant on copious amounts of caffeine to get me through my day.
While I was eventually able to come to an internal compromise, I find myself still somewhat haunted by the devious beings that interfered with the blissfulness of sleep. I will now attempt to exorcise my demons by putting them to the page.
I’ve heard it said that it is easier to banish the beasts if you know them by name; the demons currently tormenting me go by the names of Racism, Intolerance, Hatred and Ignorance. These creatures are very old and with age they have come into great power, so while I alone am not nearly strong enough to evict them from the world, words (as they so often do) give me the ability to cast them away from myself; at least for the time being.
That being said; please bear with me as I now do my best impersonation of Max Von Sydow.
Personally I believe that until I have achieved perfection I will not have gained the right to judge others, and since I am far away from attaining flawlessness, I am chained (by my own rules) to acceptance.
What right do I have to judge another based on their colour, creed or religion?
What justification could I possibly claim in dictating who another should love, how they should live, or what they should believe?
The answer is none; there is no justification, and I do not have that right. I don’t believe that anyone else living on this planet has earned that right either, since there is not one amongst us that has achieved anything even slightly akin to perfection. However… while remaining unprejudiced is a personal rule that I strive to obey, I am human, and thus, I am sometimes susceptible to making snap judgments on things and people that oppose my own personal beliefs and it is only through introspection that I can later find my way back to inner peace.
Over the years I have spent a lot of time considering the aforementioned demons, but what got me going on the subject last night was an article in the Globe and Mail about two teenage girls who posted a YouTube video of themselves going on an all out verbal attack against visible minorities. The video (which I watched after finishing the article) shows these two girls tossing out racial comments with abandon, using derogatory slurs towards fellow classmates (and a slew of others), and painting a pretty bleak picture of today’s educational system; both girls appeared to have only a very crude understanding of the English language and the inability to structure even the most fundamental parts of their own arguments despite their claims that it is the ignorance of said minorities that inspired the video in the first place.
After watching this (with a lot of eye rolling and sighs of exasperation) I went to bed thinking about the obvious (in my mind) inadequacies of the parents that raised these children, and a growing irritation over the reminder that racism is still very much alive and well despite living in an era when so many claim enlightenment and tolerance. Soon enough, I also found myself thinking about all the people I have personally known in life with a similar ass-backwards approach to thinking, and before long I found myself wishing there was a way to stifle the flow of their poisonous hatred into the world.
But as I lay in my bed staring up at the ceiling, I started to think about the sacred importance of free speech. This is something that I have always fought for, something that I value deeply, and something; if the need should ever arise; that I would lay my own life down to protect.
And that’s when I fell off my high horse.
It hit me suddenly that my very train of thought was disadvantageous to the dream of global acceptance. I was hating and judging others because of their hatred and judgments. I was allowing myself to be a part of the problem, and that irked me. Not only that, but I realized that my attitude was counterproductive to the living idea of free speech, for that freedom is a gift not just intended for some, but for all.
Here is where the debate began.
On one hand, there was freedom of speech and my belief that it should always be extended to, protected, enforced and utilized by every human being on this planet. On the other hand, there was this intense desire within me to see the girls (and others of the same mind) silenced, punished and made example of.
I thought, “Where is the line drawn?” for to protect freedom of speech means to acknowledge that while their way of thought is (in my way of thinking) completely inane, utterly hurtful to others, and wholly damaging to any dreams of an idyllic world, it is their right to express their thoughts and beliefs as much as it is mine to express my own.
The reason this debate kept me up so late is that I found myself looking for a loophole in my own convictions. I was searching for something that would say it was okay to fight to silence these people without damaging the very freedoms I so stoutly believe in. My mind went around and around the subject, searching from all angles for some provision that would allow me to believe that gagging people like this was right.
I can see now that the argument was doomed from the start, but, as they say, hindsight is always 20/20.
At some point I began to realize that if I was ever going to get to sleep, I had to find some sort of reconciliation with the warring factions of my mind. This is typically a lot easier said then done, but just moments later I hit pay dirt when the only clear compromise floated up into my consciousness…
Bound by my own beliefs, I cannot condone the silencing of anyone; no matter how bothered I am by their words and opinions. It is their right to express what they feel, and it is my right (and duty, I believe) to speak up and out against what I feel is wrong in the world around me.
That being said, it is my viewpoint that those who worship the demons of Racism, Intolerance, Hatred and Ignorance are all troglodytes who should consider their need to evolve. We are all of the same race. We all have needs, wants and fears. We all hunger, we all thirst, we all bleed and we all dream. The reality of it all is this; if we all looked alike, thought alike, loved alike and believed alike, the world would be a very gray place. Even if being identical meant the end of all wars amongst man, would that illusion of harmony be worth the loss of originality? If we were all blended in the same melting pot, would life be worth living once we lost what makes us who we are as individuals?
I don’t think so… and that’s the most beautiful thing about individualism; it is my right to believe whatever it is I choose to believe.
At any rate…
… good, bad, right or wrong, stimulating or completely irrational… thanks for stopping by my own private universe.