Humans are designed to live in a pack. Groups, tribes, and societies, have all played an important role in our collective evolution and safety. We NEED to feel like we belong to something.
It’s easy to get caught up in a zealot-like attitude when we find a group that speaks to us on a fundamental level. Animal rights, human rights, religion, race, culture, these issues inspire champions who want to persuade others to believe like they do.
Atrocities happen when people get swept up in the mentality that THEY are right and everyone else is wrong. Somehow the key to all of the world problems rest squarely on the ideals that they embrace, and if people don’t agree with their philosophy, well, not only are they just plain wrong, they’re also frightening.
History has repeatedly shown us what happens when average people really BELIEVE that their cause is the righteous way, the right way, and all other perspectives are ridiculed and excluded. It is dangerous.
Humans very easily lose the ability to empathize when caught up in the throes of judgment and indignation. The dangerous righteousness of being right.
We perch on the back of our righteous ideals and never ask the hard questions. Never listen with the intent to understand, and never put ourselves, just for a moment, in the shoes of people who don’t think, act or believe like we do.
Cecil the lion, planned parenthood, race and gender have all been in the recent spotlight. Each cause has firm supporters. People who are thoughtful, caring and really believe they are right. The world needs passionate people. The problem starts when passion turns to fervor, and a need to be right replaces empathy.
The fact is, the more we congratulate ourselves on being right and others on being wrong, the less likely we are ever to come to sincere understanding of any issue.
No matter what group you associate with, or what side you’re on, the ability to approach sensitive issues with empathy, understanding and respect shows true progressiveness.
“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire.