This morning I was reading about bubonic plague showing up in Arizona. It’s treatable with antibiotics these days so it’s unlikely to be a problem. But it got me thinking about old diseases coming back again. Things that were horrendously damaging and wiped out millions of people, rearing their ugly heads again. It’s the silly season for news, August. I’d prefer cats with wigs. But instead we’ve got these people with tiki torches and hate, who genuinely think that it’s people like themselves who are under threat.
Then I was thinking about the tolerance paradox. I value tolerance highly. But where can I stand regarding people who have no tolerance? Surely if we are intolerant of intolerant people we will be sucked in by our own pursed lips. One argument, with historical precedent, is that tolerating the intolerant leads to the decimation of the tolerant by those unchecked intolerant people, and thus the destruction of tolerance. So tolerant people have to be intolerant of intolerance…
Then I was thinking about the language of self styled “intelligent” people regarding the intolerant people empowered on the right in America at the moment, and the man that is their rallying point. People call them stupid and ignorant a lot. It’s hard not to think of them like that if you value community over individual. But this is just a worldview clash. That orange dude can’t be purely stupid – he got himself elected. And if we call him names, surely we are just doing the same thing as the guys with tiki torches. Nobody thinks of themselves as stupid. If I publicly call him stupid to his followers, his followers know I think they are acolytes of stupid, and so they have nothing to gain from listening to my views, as they think they aren’t stupid, making me the stupid one. I’m just another liberal that doesn’t understand whatever danger whatever value they are concerned about might be in if they don’t hate whoever needs to be hated. They are being brave and having unpopular opinions for the good of the many.
I’m trying to get to the bottom of the thinking behind the hate, but I don’t want to. It can’t be just about preserving how it’s always been, can it? Adapt or die is part of evolution, but I guess if you also think we were made out of ribs on a flat earth by a bearded white dude, evolution is not part of the deal. Is it just a chance to be angry? A need for identity?
There is comfort in breathing as part of a crowd. You get it at the end of yoga classes, at the start of Hitler rallies, in assembly when you sing “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” We breathe together and somehow feel more connected. More complete. Part of an entity. But time and time again in our desire for unity we miss that the person at the front of the crowd is a monster. But of course. The bulk of the crowd feels fulfilled by being part of one big breathing community unit. The person at the front is never fulfilled. “I want more and more and more.”
I don’t like this August. I don’t like where it is going. I feel so much self preservation in the air, so much greed, so much misdirected fear. I don’t want to dismiss the people swept up in it as stupid, even if I can’t agree with them. But at heart I fear I’m a hippy. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all just get along?
I’ve got a little pencil moustache because I might have a lovely job that wants it.
If it comes in I’m going to spend as much as I can bringing loveliness to the people around me. That’s about all I can do, as an individual. To use my windfalls for good. To try to be kind, considered tolerant and generous and hope that some people who are swept up in misplaced fear and hate can see a kinder way. “Haters gonna hate, plague is gonna plague.”