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[personal profile] elana
How much of your opinion is based on informed reasoning, and how much of it is a desire for affiliation with a group or network of like-minded individuals whose overall moral/political axis is the one that you perceive is just?

People who call themselves 'liberals' love to roll their eyes at so-called 'conservatives' and how brainwashed they are. Sheeple swallowing Fox News propaganda. Irrational.

But we should all ask this of ourselves, and be honest. We 'lefties' are just as guilty of it at times, laughing along to whatever Jon Stewart has to say, so confident in our own educated enlightenment that we no longer examine it.

It's only human to want to be part of a group. Consider it, without shame or judgment.

Tick boxes:

  • gay marriage

  • abortion

  • freedom of expression

  • freedom of religion

  • gun control

  • vaccination

  • environmentalism

And so on.

You know the list. You know how people cluster on one side or another of all these issues, and affiliation with one is associated with affiliation with the rest. The burden of proof is lightened. They endure less scrutiny. They become no-brainers.

Why is Israel vs. Palestine on this list? Why is this being turned into a black-and-white issue for everyone to take sides on? Why is this conflict on the other side of the world being balanced on a fulcrum for local social issues? Why uniquely this, of all the systemic suffering in the many parts of the world that go ignored?

I urge you to wonder why this, of all things, gets such treatment.

It's so easy to be swept up on a self-righteous bandwagon. It's so easy to stand alongside your allies on all these other tick boxes and shout at the people on the other side, and feel good and strong and noble.

It's easy to holler callously in a group, but you don't know who might be listening, who might have loved ones living in fear, or who might be living in fear themselves. Some of your allies may have life experiences or group affiliations that run deeper than abstractly advocating for the distant downtrodden. It's terrifying, to see a familiar bandwagon suddenly turn hostile. "But we used to shout at them together."

Please have empathy. Please advocate for peace. If you have the privilege of not needing to take a side, then don't be too hasty in strapping on a uniform. Let's neither cheer nor boo over real human blood. When you learn and think and discuss, let the only emotions you feel be empathy, sadness, recognition of tragedy. You are lucky to have that option. Don't let the invisible forces of group affiliation tempt you into a righteous, crusading rage. Don't let it be transformed into a reason to start fights here.

Just think for yourself, and be kind.

Date: 2014-08-04 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kinra.livejournal.com
You're totally right.

From a combination of experience and theory, my feeling is that there's a lot of pragmatism involved in social media echo-chambering.

A lot of this "forming ranks" comes from the unpleasant necessity of two-party (or, in Canada, effectively two-party) politics and people's decision to "align" themselves with the side that will more closely represent their own interests.

Or at least, Kant-wise, will more closely represent the way they'd want to be treated should they find themselves in a situation where that matters.

The problem with an a-la-carte system of alliances is that it leaves free-thinkers to be steamrolled by a bloc that can effectively form ranks based on enough of those criteria. Of course it totally breaks down when the side you thought was "your crowd" suddenly makes a frenzied turn on a given issue. Israel-Palestine is a huge one for me, when I am often lock-step with the pro-transit, pro-choice, don't-keep-guns-in-house, don't-pollute, and heck even try-to-eat-fewer-animals camp (insofar as it is one unified camp) and then suddenly throw "and just let there be an islamic state of Palestine where there's currently Israel" onto that moral slate.

And then I look at the people who write editorials suggesting anything about Israel's right to exist, and they're also mouth-foaming imbeciles when it comes to science or individual rights. Not that everyone who self-identifies as "Conservative" is, but taken as a gestalt personality, it is a wildly capricious psychopath.

TL;DR: I know it is impossible for me to fit into either "side". But I also know that if someone thinks there are sides, there are, effectively, sides, until some sort of detente occurs.


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