The Battle For Sanity
When Everything Is Stupid, Nothing Is.
Maybe you’ve been feeling it too, this creeping sense of horror at how stupid the world is becoming. Maybe you’ve been watching as fully grown adults throw literal “throwing produce out of their trolley” tantrums because they’ve been asked to wear a mask during a worldwide pandemic. Maybe you’ve read that claim that robots, dogs, climate activism, the White Cliffs of Dover and even trying not to be racist, are all racist. Maybe you’ve noticed that believing that biological sex is a real thing has become a controversial position.
Nobody could blame you for wanting to check out and wait for it to all blow over. But what if it doesn’t? What is it about the current situation that leads you to believe that a return to more reasonable times is on the cards? Yes, we’ll eventually figure out a vaccine for the coronavirus. Hopefully, the current insanity around race relations will settle into a serious, frank discussion which leads to lasting change. Maybe our society can learn to treat all members of the LGBT community with respect and dignity without a basic respect for the meaning of scientific terminology being conflated with hatred. But honestly, does it seem to you that the way we’re dealing with our differences is getting more or less extreme?
There’s an arms race of stupidity taking place in our public forums. Political views have become entire ideologies where there’s no room for nuance or understanding, and scoring points is far more important than making them. In direct contrast to Martin Luther King’s dream, the fight against racism has become more focused on skin colour instead of less. Political leanings have become a reliable predictor of whether you’re willing to wear a piece of cloth over your face to help fight a global pandemic. Stating an opinion is widely considered to be equivalent to violence. And it’s getting harder to point these things out without being labelled a bigot or a tyrant.
As our information becomes less reasonable, unreasonable behaviour becomes less shocking. Maybe it starts with a commissioner’s meeting where citizens accuse the council members who voted to mandate mask-wearing of “obeying the devil’s laws”. Perhaps that inspires a 77-year-old woman to sit on the floor at the entrance of Costco because she doesn’t want to wear a mask. After that, it practically seems reasonable to threaten legal action at your dentist’s office when you’re asked to do the same thing. This is especially true if the leader of your country has publicly stated that he won’t wear a mask because he “just doesn’t want to,” despite the medical advice coming from his own government (why it took that government so long to issue that advice is another story entirely).
If the number one best selling book on Amazon is a book with a racist title which suggests that the colour of your skin itself is an act of racism, it’s hardly surprising if white people ceremoniously wash the feet of black protesters in theatrical displays of supplication, or white protesters appear at rallies with chains and whip marks painted onto their bodies to express…solidarity(?!) with their black counterparts, or if white people scream in the faces of black police officers about racis…actually wait, no, that one’s still pretty surprising.
As the type of behaviour becomes increasingly commonplace, the danger is that we’ll forget that we’re supposed to challenge it. That we’ll reach a point where nothing is too paradoxical or tasteless. If we allow ourselves to become uncomfortable with questioning the actions and methods of people who insist they have right on their side, waiting for the madness to die down will cease to be an option. It will simply become the status quo.
This is the real danger. That when everything becomes stupid, we simply become numb to the stupidity. We get so used to overriding our faculties of critical thinking that they finally give up, curl up into the foetal position, and allow us to be carried along with the tide. So don’t allow yourself to be convinced that it’s hateful to ask a question, or that it’s violent to point out inconsistencies. Don’t stand by as the loudest voices drown out the most reasonable ones. There are real problems to be solved here, and if one thing is clear, it’s that these idiots are too stupid to solve them. So don’t stay silent. We need you.