Listen Up! What has changed in the world to create such hatred and violence?

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Hugh Mackenzie Huntsville Doppler

Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

Let’s Talk

Most days recently, I wake up wondering why there is so much hate in the world. This is especially so because of the trifecta of horrible events that took place in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas this past week. These of course come on the heels of so many other tragic occurrences in 2016 such as The Paris massacre, the Baltimore shootings and the slaughter in Bangladesh. It seems now that few days go by where we are not confronted with another instance of violence, tragedy and hate. Has it always been like this or is it a new world we live in? And if it is all about a new world, how in the hell did we get here?

Obviously there are no easy answers and for certain, part of the answer lies in social inequality, racism, religious bigotry, prejudice and poor behaviour by people of every colour and creed. But all of that has been around and primarily unresolved for decades, if not centuries. And so one must ask what has changed to cause this terrible upheaval in most parts of the World today?

Globalization may be one reason, but to me, a primary answer is that we have stopped talking to each other. At its base it is as simple and uncomplicated as that. Trenches have been dug so deeply that there is no way to get across them. Sarah Palin, that flamboyant former Governor of Alaska and unsurprisingly, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, made the point succinctly in a recent speech when she said, “You are either with us or you are against us. “ She might as well have said, ‘It is our way or the highway’. No middle ground. No room for dialogue. No one to care for your opinion unless it is theirs.

The really sad thing however, is that this phenomenon is much greater than any election campaign. It is becoming a way of life and it results in intransigent positions and ultimately a dysfunctional, negative and nasty society. And while Canadians may think we are inoculated from these things, we are not.

While I am somewhat ambivalent about the presidency of Barack Obama, a part of a recent speech of his caught my attention. Now it was a political speech, aimed at the Republicans, and Donald Trump, but I ask you to put aside any political connotation or prejudice and just look at his plain words. Here they are:

“…Because whatever our differences, we all love this country and we all care fiercely about our children’s futures. And we don’t have time for charlatans. And we don’t have time for hatred. And we don’t have time for bigotry. And we don’t have time for flim flam. And we don’t have the luxury of just popping off and saying whatever comes to the top of our heads. Don’t have time for that.”

I was struck by this paragraph and actually believe it should become a mantra for all of us, whether politicians, special interest groups or individuals. It really is a formula to take our society back, to build positive relationship and meaningful bridges of dialogue that would allow us to effectively confront and resolve hate and negativity rather than exploit it. If we don’t act soon then I fear for our generation and our children’s generation. We can do it. All we really need to do is to fill in the trenches and start talking to each other. But we need to do it now.

Post Script

In my posting last week, I mentioned how privileged I felt to live in Huntsville. That feeling came back in spades this weekend as I watched so many community activities; the bathtub races, the lake association meetings, the Ironman competition. I continue to be thankful for our great sense of community, our volunteerism and our support for each other. As well, I felt that wonderful sense of community that is so much a part of Huntsville in a very personal way this weekend, in a manner that I deeply appreciate and will never forget.

Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

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9 Comments

  1. Hugh, you have personally touched the lives of many, not only in Huntsville but throughout Muskoka, in many corners of Ontario and further afield. Your good deeds have earned you respect and lasting friendships… …these are truly the measures that count most.

  2. Great article! Thanks, Hugh. There is no simple answer yet when all is said and done a really large part of the problem has to do with money, or lack of it. We continue to want more things from our government but they don’t always want to have to increase taxes to pay for it. We can’t tax big business because they will simply move to a lesser taxed country or move money off shore to avoid more taxes. We don’t want people on Ontario Works because they will abuse it – like the poor abuse food banks – (he said sarcastically) – I know some abuse these supports but the question remains – to the same extent that the wealthy abuse the system?
    Until we can learn to really care about each other, putting them first, rather than our own interests – not much will change – even war doesn’t change much of anything. And it starts at the top – we need politicians with a real desire to care about people – but too often they become more concerned with re-election – yes, Churchill was probably right to say that “democracy isn’t perfect but it is better than the other options” (my inaccurate attempt to quote without looking up actually quote – yes, sometimes, I am just too lazy).
    Where do we start? With our system? With ourselves?

  3. Jean Bagshaw on

    I have been thinking much the same thing for quite a while (i.e. why all the violence and hate).
    I am taken aback by the lack of manners, the lack of empathy, and the outright mean-ness in our world.
    Humour is now “dark” and people laugh… the more awful the content, the more they laugh. Is this from embarrassment? I don’t think so, judging by the sneer on their faces.
    Children’s movies, stories and computer games, are a litany of non-stop shoot, explode, bash and pulverize…I listen to the eightish year old boys who are playing games on the computers and it’s all about how many avatars/life-like persons, they have killed, how many creatures they have beheaded.
    Sitting in the waiting room of the emergency department at 5:00 p.m. the TV show on the screen is “Criminal Minds”, something that is likely to give an adult post-traumatic stress disorder, let alone a child.
    We are teaching our children to win at any cost and that they are smart when they gain at someone else’s expense, with little or no effort on their part.
    What happened to morals, character and kindness?
    We have no-one to blame but ourselves. We allow it. We reward it. We laugh at others misfortune.

  4. Lenore Werry on

    I wonder as I hear the news each day how many of us have actually had a close friend of another colour or one of the LGBT community. Having lived in other countries where we as caucasian were the minority and in other areas where ‘gays’ were accepted without question, we, as a family (including our grown children) are unaware of people being ‘different’ when we meet them. Perhaps the answer lies with our youth spending time in other countries, not as visitors, but as an integral part of a community, living and working as the local people. As visitors to a country for a vacation, we see the fringe of that society. One must LIVE the life to truly be a part of the people.

  5. Thank you, Lenore and Jean: “We have found the enemy and it is us.” Historically, every worthwhile societal change has originated with a “grass roots” movement. Pedantically, “grass roots” movements occur when like-minded individuals coalesce. So it behooves us as individuals to examine our mores; adjust what is required; and ingrain these values into our children. Until the “me” generation morphs into the “we” generation, meaningful change is doomed.

    Recently, I read one wag identifying cataracts as the third leading cause of blindness; followed by religion and politics. Several other categories could have been appended, and these are the easiest to discard. And as Hugh avers, increased tolerance leads to increased respect and increased dialogue.

    It sounds too simple, but self-examination and change is perhaps too scary for many to essay.

  6. victoria lazier on

    Another thoughtful article Hugh. Let’s hope we wake up and understand the importance of being a good neighbour, giving back to our community and the value of being kind. Let’s not let fear co-opt our better nature.
    Thank you Hugh.

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