Muster The Courage

[This is essentially a rough draft, once again I find myself late in the hour on an unplanned soapbox – luckily there are only like twenty of you who read this stuff. (*author waves to Mom, Aunt Pat and the other Pat). I’ll edit it over the weekend.]

Excuse me for being late to the party but I recently signed up for Twitter. It’s essentially the latest addiction that is destined to destroy my existence, and apparently millions of others. If you’re not one of those millions, basically everyone types out, in under 140 characters, what’s on their mind. After a week of being on there, as far as I can everyone falls into one of these categories: comedians, aspiring to be rich, rich, famous, housewives, single guys living at home, drunks, sex addicts, or people trying to save the world. I’ll let you decide which categories I fall into. Apparently half of the people I follow are strippers or lonely housewives. That’s not really the point.

But what I do find interesting is the social awareness aspect of Twitter. A social or environmental tragedy can be happening someplace and instantly information can be sent across the world, like a building wave – people sharing with people. Up until last week I didn’t know anything about the plight of cetaceans in Japan and our country. I elaborated on this topic (and others like it) here and here previously. The examples of slaughtering dolphins and keeping large multi-ton swimming mammals in captivity are things that have been going on for many years. While I can’t fault their origins, we as human societies have grown and evolved to the point where what we did a few centuries, decades, even years ago may not necessarily be appropriate in this day and age. It’s a fact of life. I’m not being political or a bleeding heart tree-hugger. I’m being a human being, who thinks, reflects, has compassion and solves problems. It’s how I’m wired, both genetically and through my upbringing.

The beauty of modern advancements in technology, Twitter in this example, is that when we as humans socially evolve and determine it’s time for a change – that change coupled with our technology advancements means we can more readily communicate the need for change. Before computers, tv’s, phones, etc. it would be virtually impossible for the average person to learn about what was really going on half way around the world. Now we can’t avoid it really.

This new reality really complicates things for us. We’re busy as it is. We’re struggling to pay bills, raise kids, achieve goals, and maybe eek out a second or two to relax. But if we know about an injustice in this world, what does it mean when we turn a blind eye? What is so important in our busy modern lives that our humanity has to take a back seat? Humans have a long history of righting wrongs; from chasing guys stealing purses to sacrificing sons and daughters to stop mad men from taking over the world.

Now we find ourselves with the power of instant information and communication that technology has afforded us. We can no longer claim to not know what is going on. That luxury dies with every passing day.

We do know.

But what are we doing about it?

Seemingly all we can do is turn a blind eye, moving further away from our humanity. Despite being universally busy, we still carve out time to debate, criticize, undermine and ignore. What does it mean when we know it’s happening and we don’t do anything about it? Does that make us complicit in some way? I’m not a moral attorney, social judge and certainly not a religious scholar. All I know is we adhere to, or at least should adhere to, some fundamental, universal moral roadmap that defines what it means to be a human being. Maybe it was ingrained into you by a higher power or it’s in your genes. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it is there. It’s what makes each of us human. It’s deeper then the time you cheated on your algebra test in 10th grade, or you called your boss a ‘incompetent prick’ behind his back. If that’s what you’re worried about then go to confession or whatever the equivalent of that is to you. It is not written in a book. It is not proprietary to race or creed. You won’t find it on the internet, tv or you’re Thursday-night-group gathering. What I am talking about is our humanity; how we should fundamentally treat the world that we, for such an excruciatingly brief amount of time, live in. We need to instill in ourselves, our children, the strength to stand up and say “I will not be complicit.”

We need to muster the courage borne inside of each of us to be compassionate humans.

If there isn’t time to be human, then time has no purpose. If we can’t be humane then we are nothing.

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