For some time this month I have been coming back to a vexing question: why “people”? Why do we spend so much time and energy being angry, being disappointed, criticizing, vilifying, and trying with all our might to change and control people? Is it that we are programmed as a hive, and feel we must make the hive into our perfect image of how it should be? Is it that we really do need each other? Or is it something less elegant, that people are all around us, and cruelty to them is easy and convenient, like the ants under a child’s magnifying glass?
“More animals were harmed by the stocking of the snack bar than in the making of this movie.” ~Reality
Years ago, a love interest, who was demonstrably in the top 99 percentile of attractiveness, told me she was depressed, and added, “That word doesn’t begin to describe what’s going on inside me.” The fact that I thought it was ridiculous for someone so beautiful to be depressed illustrates that in some ways, I don’t know how human behavior works.
Even Jeremiah Johnson ostensibly wanted to get away from all people, yet, despite his paucity and isolation, is unable to avoid conflict with them or attachment to them.
Then there’s war. Many wars start with claims about needing resources like land or minerals, but are really almost always about hating other peoples, be they of a different faith or a different face. We didn’t spent ten trillion and change to defend ourselves from the Russian winter; we did it to defend ourselves from Russians. And it’s too easy to chime in with, “there’s evil in the world,” because that itself is an admission that we have no idea what to do about evil except destroy it. That hasn’t worked so far; there is just as much evil in the world now than ever.
Fast forward to the present: so many of us want to destroy those who seem to oppose us. What would it be like if we tried to understand and educate them? I know, I know. What the world needs now is love sweet love, blah blah. Also this: does hating some group or faith or behavior ever change it? Does hating cancer cure it? Does hating an ex wife fill her with regret?
Okay, since we’re confessing things, hear this: My wife and I loved the action thriller Olympus Has Fallen. But when DT moved into the White House, we won’t even watch it any more because its whole meaning has been flipped. I never thought I would root for terrorists.
I’d like to take the lead by not gossiping, not complaining, not being a cog in the people-hating machine (which I originally typed as Pretty Hate Machine, NIN fans). My favorite quote about this comes from Eleanor Roosevelt…
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
I know this rant is all over the place. I want to be a great mind. Show me how.