They say that things worth doing are usually the hardest things to do.
I think that is why it is easier to be negative and close-minded than it is to be positive and open-minded.
A good, recent example is the aftermath of the violence in Paris. 130 people killed by fanatical extremists. Horrible and sad. But what seems to be happening afterwards could be classified as even worse, because it makes the terrorists, and anyone who is like-minded, believe that they have succeeded in sowing terror and fear into society.
Although all but one of the terrorists that acted in Paris on November 13th were from either France or Belgium, it seemed important to many new broadcasts that one person was supposed to be a refugee from Syria. In the week since, there have been some disturbing, shocking, and cowardly events happening as a result of the attacks.
Here in Canada, a Muslim woman in a hijab was attacked by two men in their 30’s while she was going to pick up her kids from school. They made racial remarks, tore off her hijab, and beat her up. In another case, a Muslim woman was harassed on a bus, while in Ottawa, notes of hate were stuffed into mailboxes, telling Muslims to get out of the Canada. I wish I could say that the events in Paris were the instigation of all this hatred, but sadly it is not. For weeks before, I have noticed on my alternate Facebook page, filled with local friends and family members, posting appearing mocking and insulting Muslims, especially women during a debate up here about women wearing their hijabs during citizenship ceremonies. Not only did I see an ugly side of people I thought I knew, but I saw the ease at which negativity can be spread and shared.
I wish I could go into the mind-set behind such thoughts of negativity, bigotry and hatred, but I honestly don’t have time for that. I could go on for hours as to why people think like that. Also, as odd as it may sound, if people want to think like that, then that is their choice, as much as I don’t agree with their point of view.
Unlike many of the countries that refugees flee from, here in Canada and America (unless you watch and believe in what Fox news says and believes), we have the right to free speech. It is what allows me to write this blog. But, by that freedom, it also allows someone with a diametrically opposed view to say what they want.
But I’m not talking about extremists. I’m talking about average people. Friends, relatives, people you know on social media. I’m talking about people who probably wouldn’t say any of the crap they say online to someone in person. The majority of these people who post anti-Muslim sentiments in Facebook wouldn’t say any of the vitriol to a Muslim in person. They might cowardly mutter something under their breath, but that’s it. The few who might actually try to say something in person would probably be quickly shunned or looked at with disgust, especially up here in Canada, where we say “sorry” if you bump into us.
Social media is an easy target to blame. With its anonymity, people think they can say whatever they want, and what they seem to say are the most is negative things. And it isn’t even about people of different races, religions, or sexual orientation.
A few weeks back, around Remembrance Day, I posted a comment about having November 11th a holiday, with conditions that would benefit veterans. Most liked my idea, some disagreed, which is fine. But one woman went into a bit of a tirade about my idea, as if it were set in stone, or actually going to go through as law! It was startling and sad to see how angry this person got. It was as if my opinion was a personal attack on her!
Personally, I think it is a mix of social media allowing people to have access to place to voice their opinions, as well as the self-inflated sense of entitlement that many people seem to be developing over the past decade or so. With social media being accessible on our smartphones, people can post, comment, or share anything they like in an instant, without thinking if what they are saying is something they would actually say. Sure, they have all the right to say whatever they want, but the real question is, is it something they should say? That is where the sense of entitlement comes in.
From driving their cars like crazy people, to budding in line at the grocery store, to posting any thought that wanders through their mind, entitled people believe it is their right to get/ think/ say what they want or deserve. In the moment at which their selfishness rules, they will disregard everything, whether it be civility, politeness, or the feelings of others. Their only goal, to make sure they say what they want, not caring who it might hurt or how foolish it might make them look.
I believe this is where that old saying “there is more than one way to skin a cat” comes into play, without infringing on people’s right to free speech. Sure, you can be spiteful and filled with negativity or hate when you say what you want. But truth be told, people aren’t negative all the time. If they had a more positive and understanding way of expressing themselves, then maybe there might be more understanding between their opposing views and others.
But, sadly, that would be one of those things that would be worth doing, and thus, hard to do. Close-minded people aren’t big on change, and change can be the hardest thing for anyone to do. So instead of being open-minded to different things or opinions, they ignore everything and just spew negativity.
So, how do we battle negativity? For me, I use humour, compassion, or silence. Humour to hopefully diffuse the negativity. Compassion, as so to help them understand my point of view, as well as understanding theirs. But sometimes, all people want is a conflict, so in the end, being silent, allowing them to think they have won, is the best outcome. Sadly, in this case, it is they who have lost, because they didn’t want to listen to others, they just wanted to hear themselves spread more and more negativity.