This world we live in

I grew up idealistic, convinced that fairness, equality, and education were the fundamental keys to solving all of humanities problems. I guess in a way I still do think like that, but I’m no longer convinced that every member of humanity is capable of embracing these ideals. We polarise our opinions so easily in this perfect storm of flat out lies on social media, the frenzied, biased and alarmist reporting by the traditional media, and our own willingness to believe everything we hear that agrees with our own preconceived world view. We disbelieve objective truth with such practiced ease, casting it aside like so much unwanted litter.

Our leaders seem self-interested, and uncaring, indeed, in many cases unfit to lead (yes I mean you Donald). All the while as individuals, when our behaviour is closely observed, the majority of us are ‘good’ people. But collectively we’re capable of such stupidity and hate?

I look around me at the world today, with thousands of people ignoring the fact that we’re in the middle of a pandemic in order to protest, or riot, or just go to the beach?!? I find myself wondering what spurs people into this behaviour, now, at this moment in history. Do we forget reality and descend into a kind of temporary ‘confirmation bias’ madness when we perceive a chance to live out our short-sighted self-interest? How did we get here?

Tribes, tribes everywhere

We humans like a good group, we’re social apes after all, being part of a tribe and seeing that tribe flourish, is a deep-rooted need within humanity. We’re not big fans of other tribes though, they’re competition, hoarders of space, resources, mates, and more. In general these ‘outsiders’ are treated with suspicion bordering on contempt, especially when the observer feels inadequate, or threatened in some way. Living in national tribes measured in the millions, leaves many of us feeling disconnected and under-represented, what percentage of people are patriots these days? Who primarily identifies theirself with their nationality to other inhabitants of that nation? “Greetings fellow Englishmen!”, is not something I hear when I’m out and about. No, we seem rather to invent new tribes, smaller collectives that are easier for us to identify with; religion, race, one of many alternative genders, musical taste, or even technological preference. It’s a beautiful thing to feel like we belong, but that beauty is all to often tainted by fear, mistrust, and hatred of those not in our tribe.


Many of us wake each day with our minds set like mouse traps, waiting to be set off by that which we see as being against our tribe. It does not matter if the offence is real or imagined, other members of our tribe will identify with our perceived pain and revel in it, feeling validated in our collective cause. Better yet, if we can point out individuals who are against our tribe, whether or not they actually are, we can signal our own virtue and gain kudos among our tribe-mates.

Raising victims

Many of us in society are now so ingrained with feelings of being judged for our identity, that we actively look for and get triggered by ‘oppression’ that does not exist. If you’re dealing with an annoying person, or someone in a position of power is being unpleasant, is it because they are annoying or unpleasant, or is it because of your skin colour or gender? What if the person treating you badly does it to everyone? Are you not causing yourself harm by imagining that it’s something about you that has caused this person to behave badly? Why allow yourself to be triggered? why give away your power to a deeply unpleasant person? Offence is not forced upon you, it is taken, and paid for with your pride and personal power. Perhaps if we didn’t raise our children to expect to be victims, and to see oppression in every shadow, then maybe they wouldn’t.

How to improve

Our identity politics, tribalism, and predilection for being triggered make us so easy to manipulate it is truly tragic. We see repeated examples of mass-manipulation of belief for nefarious purposes, such as what happened on Facebook and other social media outlets during the 2016 US presidential election. The ICA published their findings in this regard and the likes of Facebook didn’t disagree with them in their own recounting of events.

So what can we do? Somehow we need to spread the urge to investigate truth. Somehow we need to arm our kids with the ability to see through blatant attempts to manipulate them. Somehow, we need to wake up each day and NOT set our mental mouse traps to be triggered. Somehow we need to find a way to relate to each other in ways that don’t divide us.

Wouldn’t you like to live in a society that was race-blind, gender-blind, as well as both oblivious and non-judgmental about personal lifestyle choices and customs? Wouldn’t it be good if we agreed a basic charter of human rights

My beliefs?

Ask yourself, as you read my words, what does this guy believe? Have you already labelled me and put me in a box in your head? What kind of person am I? What is my background? Given what you have read so far, what are your uninformed snap-judgements about me? Am I a racist? Am I homophobic? How do I feel about religion? What do I think about foreign policy? Which political party did I vote for?

What if I said, none of my beliefs should matter to you? You should view my writing as a set of ideas and use logic to dissect what I have written, to parse it’s meaning, and determine it’s value for yourself.

It’s difficult to label me and put me in a box; I hold a wide variety of (what I hope are) well-considered beliefs, and I try to judge each new idea that comes my way independently on it’s own merits, rather than simply following the herd. I’ll try to sum up my own feelings and motivations here with some simple statements:

  • Strive to do the least harm; to others, the world, and yourself.
  • Remember that people can’t help the way they behave, they’re driven by impulse, reflex, and feelings.
  • Change is hard, be patient with others and yourself when trying to make changes.
  • Be careful when you try to help or advise. Consider the repercussions of your words and actions before you unleash them on the world.
  • Try to leave things better than you found them
  • Don’t waste your time on hate and negative emotions
  • Don’t be an ass

I truly want to live in a world free from prejudice and hate. We waste too much time on the negative as a species. All in all, I’d like to see less extremeism in the world, a move to the moderate middle in politics, an age-blind, race-blind, and gender-blind, vista of opportunity for all humanity. I’d like to see idealism tempered with logic, hate healed with education, and people working for a common good. I’d also like a real light saber and a pet dragon sigh… one wonders if any of these dreams will ever be realised?