Social Myopia


isabellaOur topic today is not the photo you see here.

Sure, the “social justice selfie” is tiresome at this point.  Sure, these pictures usually signal that someone is more interested in their self than the message.

Unlike a previous article, however, I see reason to give this mom the benefit of the doubt.  The sign may be illogical, but neither is it poisonous.  I have reason to believe the mother has the best intentions for her daughter at heart.  I don’t really care much about the impact of saying “retarded,” what I like here is the idea of someone caring about this child.  That’s ultimately the most important thing.

What this photo did bring to mind are the social conflicts we’re experiencing here in the West, particularly in comparison to news out of the Middle East.  Considering what’s happening over in Iraq and Israel, it’s amazing to realize our pressing social crisis here in the States amounts to “mean people who say mean things.”  Even more amazing is to consider a lot of people actually do equate calling someone “retarded” to crucifying a person in Syria for apostasy.

Yes, the typical westerner can be shortsighted.  Yes, it can be frustrating dealing with such people from a position outside of their vision.

No, this is not a condition isolated to mothers, liberals, or the mainstream.  We are just as susceptible to this social myopia.

socialjusticeSeeing bullying campaigns such as these, the zeal your fellow American seems to have for social justice, do you declare them as irrefutable signs of a decaying society? Do you see these silly people with good intentions as being no different from revolutionaries or barbarians? In our apparent blindness to the “real” problems plaguing society today, are we doomed to repeat the failures of ages past?

Maybe…  Then again, maybe not.  Consider that the progressives of today aren’t violently protesting like the 60s, that there is no Weather Underground.  Better for them to post a sign on facebook than to clog up city streets holding them.  Their behavior and ideas may be just as self-destructive now as then, but they are no longer as interested in spreading their ideas in the real world.  For the most part, outside of a vote every few years, even the most vile progressive is safely contained within his/her/zer’s own home.

Yes, I am telling you that even reaction to social myopia can be itself myopic.  Even the most well-intentioned desire for tradition, culture or race can itself lead to absurd ideas and implementation, to social network echo chambers and the like.  Worse, a grouping of such individuals can be hijacked by those with less-than-altruistic intentions.  “The road to hell,” and all that.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort to picture a world where the democrats of today are posting absurd arguments for Skyrim.

My intention here is not to diminish or worse, equate every idea or goal.  Good and evil are things.  My intention is to appeal for a bit of circumspection when dealing with a world that will never resemble your ideals.

We may truly feel that things are bad, hopelessly so.  We may fervently believe that bullies and liberals are the harbingers of apocalypse, and they very well could be.  But we should never lose sight of the present, that compared to history and the present lives that billions of other humans live around the world, things are really not thatbad or precarious for us.

We should always ground our arguments in a reality that doesn’t conform to narrative, we should not allow hyperbole to lead us to absurd rhetoric and even more absurd views of the world around us.

We should not forget that the abyss also looks into us.

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Bulbasaur is a blue collar worker and part-time polemicist from the Southern U.S.