Understanding the proliferation of fake news (hate crimes) is an essential undertaking if we are to have any hope of equanimity or bridging our data gap and coming together in our communities to help one another realize the ideals of liberty, or prosperity or tranquility of the We The People. I am horrified by the lies in full color that get shared, re-tweeted, spammed and repeated as fact, to the point it has spawned its own holy grail of guile.
How could someone so smart believe such stupid things? Then I realize how many times I heard that same shame growing up and throughout my adult life. My chronic illness causes several autonomic imbalances in my body and my mind is not immune from the adrenaline surges, the parasympathetic rebounds or the constant pain in one form or another. What that means for me, is that my habit brain has a well stocked go-to-loop of less-than-helpful conditioned fears, frets, worries, panic, doom and total destruction. It’s my special brand of having it all and working with a physical illness that touches all aspects of my being.
I worked for years on the assumption that my scientific analytical brain, could somehow overcome the amygdala response .. to soothe the savage beast if I was to misquote William Congreve as we all tend to do. But alas, despite my years of training, regardless of the number of hours spent on the zafu, in spite of the mantras and dharmas that I embraced …. I have never stopped believing in the fake news of my own mind. On a good day of course, there is certainly more distance from the fear mongering lies and I can see the insanity of it all … but yet the pain and suffering is still so great that it seems utterly insufficient to relax and wait for the storm to pass.
So I understand how people can believe the lies before their eyes (before the I-first) we are programmed for flight, fight and frighten ourselves out of our mind. And this very human trait is oh so easy to exploit and we succumb to the puppet masters that we put our faith in their hands. From politicians, to preachers to doctors and pharmacies, we look for someone to help us feel safe, to save us, to take away our pain. I remember the years when I tried every snake oil that promised a cure to my condition. How common is it for us all to medicate, marry or meditate on the hope that THIS will make us feel solid, safe and sound. It is a noble desire to be sure. But our blind trust that anyone can help us feel better is where the illusion falls short and we may never realize we are chasing a dream as we create our own nightmare.
But what is the real problem? We are only hurting ourselves with our alternative facts, right? Well no. When we participate in spreading the lies as far as the eye (I) can see, we actually make the world less safe for all of us. Because fear, even ungrounded fear, takes on a life of its own and the consequences of feeding that fear in ourselves and others can lead to unpredictable (predictable) tragedy. I see the radicals responding on public social media posts. We are an armed nation that is not afraid to hate. And even though you might be without agency to pick up the gun that you have in the drawer across the room, one of your friends of friends (of friends) is going into a mosque with their rifle, they are ripping off the jihab of a women on the street, they are beating up a person because they used the loo. These unstable homeraised shooters are the product of the fear and hate propaganda and when we participate in sharing the lies we feed their domestic terrorism agenda.
We each are responsible for the ripple of our words. And people in power and the spot light have even more responsibility to speak responsibly. Did we forget so quickly that we can not put up crosshairs on an electoral college map? You can’t slander judges, just because you disagree with them. Because that puts a target on their head. You can’t make sweeping generalizations about ISIS and apply them to Muslims. They aren’t Muslim, they are terrorists. If you don’t recognize the common enemy, you may be destroying your only ally.
Don’t dismiss the resistance to policy as sour grapes. It is not. It is a passionate understanding of climate and human rights. Do not dehumanize the opposition, they aren’t going anywhere and you can not bully anyone into understanding compassion. Each of us needs to work with our own fears and understand where the voices in our head are coming from. Question the source. Ask questions. Be willing to put your own ideas aside if you are presented with new or different information. Be willing to believe that facts exist and take on the challenge that you will look at each new piece of information you hear, see or read with a critical eye. #MakeAmericaThinkAgain. Because what we believe shapes how we behave and ultimately our level of suffering. We may not always be able to quiet the voice of fear in our mind, even when part of our brain understands it is irrational. But we can do our best not to pass on our fears and stoke the flames of reactionary hate because we never know what demons lie inside another person’s internal world.
Its not about all getting along, or forgiving those who have hurt us. Or having hope for a better tomorrow. Not for me at least. I don’t believe we have to hold a place in our heart for those people who do not understand our pain. And I’m not particularly optimistic about the future. One need not be hopeless or hopeful. And while I may not choose to engage in every teachable moment, there will be moments of opportunity when I can try to bring some light to the dark places that over shadow a conversation. In that I can help clarify muddy waters if only for a moment until the next dump of toxic sludge into the stream, well then there is that. Meanwhile, my work is to work on being present, in a time when it is all too easy to look away in disbelief.