Monday, January 12, 2015

What or Who Are We Really Defending?

Two persons - courtesy of

I find myself shaken and disturbed by the behaviour of many of my fellow Australians, and not a few people from other lands, in their want of propriety in respect of the visit of Dr Tenpenny to our shores whose intent, while holidaying, was to share her conclusions on the dangers of vaccination with those that may be interested. This behaviour on social media is not new, it seems to follow any controversial subject...and I must be truthful here...I have, in the past, succumbed to its sweet poison...but no more...I have made a commitment to myself to be as respectful as I can...let's see if I can keep to it. So.....

Any member of officialdom reading the volume of voracious hostility in the comments directed toward Dr. Tenpenny on Vaccines, on her facebook page and elsewhere, or to other opponents of vaccination, must be smugly congratulating themselves on the success of their pro-vaccination campaign and engendering fear (rightly or wrongly) in the minds of the population about non vaccination.

I invite you to look beyond the issue for a minute. Are we being the sort of people we would like to live amongst?

Whatever happened to 'treat others as you would like to be treated' or 'love your neighbour, or even your enemy, as yourself'? Where is our compassion? To an observer we seem to act as if we expect everyone else to be reasonable, no matter how illogical that expectation may be - i.e. to behave and think in a fashion wholly acceptable to us. But why should they? And why can’t we allow them the ‘privilege’ of unreasonableness, after all we expect it from them?

It seems that we have a long way to go in the development of our emotional intelligence. No matter the controversial topic it seems we allow entrenched fear and insecurity to bypass manners and overcome all leanings toward respectful discourse – leading to outrage over ideology differing from our own. Subsequently, we indulge our need to pontificate on the obviously correct facts of the matter, comfortable in our superior knowledge whilst belittling and pouring scorn upon the opposition. Is this one-up-manship really to be applauded? Why do we assume ourselves to be omniscient, standing in the absolute truth? Who do we think we are to believe we have the intellectual and moral superiority to treat our fellows so viciously and with such contempt?

Surely we all, as humans with equal inherent value, have the right to be 'wrong'. I'm not talking about criminal activity, I'm talking about opinions and thoughts. 

You may say "Yes, but they are dangerous ideas, and deserve to be ridiculed". Really? Dangerous? Perhaps. Perhaps dangerous like a gun? It's only when someone picks it up and uses it that it becomes truly dangerous. Before that, it is merely potentially dangerous. And perhaps the danger lies elsewhere anyway...perhaps the danger is belief. In the case of the vaccination issue, everyone barring those that actually did the testing and research, and the peers that reviewed the findings, has taken the findings, for or against, on faith. Faith in the experts that give us the information. We trust them. We believe what we've been told is the truth of the matter. 

Before we post our comments filled with righteous indignation and hostility towards those who dare to hold a differing/opposing view and, from our viewpoint, a ridiculous one, do we look in the mirror? Do we see the curl in our lips, or the snarl just beneath the surface, or the speak-to-the-hand-coz-I’m-not-listening flint hard eyes? Despite our highly valued intelligence, are we that far removed from the animal...defending…something? What is it in us that we feel needs defending? And how is it more important than another person’s ‘something’. Are we so unsure of ourselves that we must spit venom to ensure that ‘something’s’ survival? 

Perhaps we might consider who we are? Are we the sum of our knowledge, thoughts and opinions? Or are we something separate from our intellectual constructs. After all, from where did those constructs arise? Are our 'truths' really ours or are they just the ideas of someone else that has found a comfortable place in our perception of the world? Are we just reiterating the information that has been poured into us from birth by parents, teachers, various accepted experts etc.?  What truths are honestly ours, and if they are ours and we know them as absolute truths then surely they cannot be destroyed and therefore there is no need for defence...or attack.

A small P.S, I came across this, posted on facebook by a friend, and thought it an appropriate closing for this post.....

"The good news is that I am not my personality. None of us is. At times, I think of the personality as a stubborn and demanding pet. We can train it to have better manners, but for the rest of its life, it will require a certain amount of affection, water, and kibble. It helps to have some humor in tending this pet, whatever its quirks are."
~ Jack Kornfield 

Please note: if you wish to comment/debate/argue/abuse or otherwise on the subject of vaccines, please do so elsewhere - there are plenty of spaces on social media, for and against, for that purpose. This blog post discusses behaviour and respect or rather the lack thereof.

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