a 21st century witch hunt: owning up to our own hypocrisy

local street art

many people see nothing more than animosity, anger, judgement, fear, humiliation, resentment, disgust, violence, and blame when they look out at the world. what many don’t realize though is that if i look for good in the world, then i’ll find good, and if i look for bad, then i’ll find that too.

our intention shapes how we feel, it starts in our minds and flows outwards.

we see what we choose to see, and whatever we take it in, we then spit back out.

the negative energy we throw at one another only sustains it. each time we speak ill will we keep its ugly presence stuck in our communal guts, spinning inside a blackened soup of disdain until it grows so large it finally bursts into a fiery ball of disgust.

we’re no better than the primitive, medieval witch hunts we condemn. in fact, we do exactly the same. we’re in the midst of a 21st century witch hunt where everyone seems to be looking for someone to burn, only now we execute each other with our words, rather than with stacks of tinder and a match.

“omg, how fat” — “ugh, nice face” — “i hope they die” — “they should just give up" — "did you see their horrible new hair?” — “bleh, what a waste of space” — “nice face, so ugly.” — “i hate them, they suck” — “why don’t they just go away?"

we’ve become so accustomed to gossip and conjecture that we no longer even recognize it as such.

gossip now wears a mask, it masquerades as the news.

why are the things we choose to talk about so misdirected? where’s the value in such disregard and lack of respect for one another? this isn’t news. this isn’t entertainment. these are personal and private tragedies we revel in.

why are we so consumed with bringing others down? why do we find so much joy in watching someone fall from grace and drown in their own mistakes?

we amuse ourselves by publicly shaming others. we laugh when someone goes broke. we cheer when someone messes up. we applaud when they self-destruct and say, “haha, i told you so”.

we jump on people's backs as they're already stumbling and falling. we pile on, kick them in the ribs, ride them until they crumple and crash, and then we act surprised when they can't get back up.

there is a perpetual dichotomy in our actions; what we say one day rarely matches what we do the next.

one day the public denounces bullying (when it’s in fashion to do so, of course). we might put a special pin on our lapel, or change our photo to one with a banner of solidarity, or we might really go crazy and use a hashtag on all of our posts, you know… to stand up for those who need our support, for those who need a helping hand.

yet the very next day we race to join a madding crowd to vociferously lambaste someone who we’ve never met, chastising them for all of their mistakes and unfortunate misdeeds (or worse yet, for how they look).

we need to own up to our own hypocrisy.

realize this: your gossip is bullying, and your scornful words breed hate.

this epitomizes our problem. it only stops, when we choose to stop. each time we point our fingers at someone else we refuse to look at ourselves, we refuse to acknowledge our own shortcomings, we refuse to accept responsibility for our own actions, including our hurtful words.

our contempt for each other is an injustice; our willingness to laugh at someone who hurts, our lack of compassion for each other's suffering, and the absence of help for those who need it the most, is a plight to our society.

when you revel in someone else’s pain, you only deepen your own.

we need to wake up and realize we’re in this together, we each affect each other, and that we must embrace empathy, care, and understanding for one another. these things need to be our first instinct; not gossip or name calling, not taunting or hurtful words. the solution to this cultural madness is quite simple, don’t participate. don’t feed the negativity with droplets of your own discontent or discomfort.

practice compassion. practice gratitude. practice loving-kindness.

who is it that shapes the narrative and direction of our time? we do. with each passing comment and conversation, with each pointed finger, with each piece of content we consume, and with each lending of a hand in support.

collectively, we need to better choose who and what we lend our voice to. together, we can either be a choir that lifts each other up, or a mob that drags each other down.

brian thompson