Accidental malice, the way of our times

LeBron James. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Digital First Media/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

By JoeAm

I was struck the other day by the realization of how much unthinking effort we put into living other people’s lives for them. I was stuck at an intersection, about to go through, when a car popped out from behind a truck. I could see him, but the guy behind me could not, and honked.

My context was different than his. I wanted to ask him if he really needed to drive two cars at once and if it wouldn’t be better if he just stuck with his. But you don’t ask that kind of thing in the Philippines lest you wish for an early demise.

Then this past week, we had two cases when tweets from public figures, Marian Rivera on Manila traffic and LeBron James opposed to free speech (on the surface). People pounced on them. James got it globally, with Hong Kong protesters burning his jersey.

But it seems to me James had his context, and was correct within it. And critics didn’t know, and didn’t care.

James was defending his colleagues against further damage. A nasty job, but someone had to do it to prevent the NBA from laying the political and economic burden of the US vs China on players. James’ comment had nothing to do with free speech. He was defending his teammates and all NBA players. One of his teammates had just lost a million dollar shoe contract because of the tweet that James criticized.

You are free to argue the issues. Idealism or economics, free speech and responsible speech, the NBA and Hong Kong, or rich people and shoes. But go easy on James, I think. Unless you were in China where the scene was bizarre in the extreme, people ripping banners off the wall, cancelling events and contracts, and sanding sponsors’ logos off the playing floor. Teammates stunned.

James could see what was going down. Critics seem not to want to.

James stepped up. And people want him to shut up. In the name of free speech. hahahaha

But that’s us, is it not? That’s our times. Free flying, darting about on social media trying to run other people’s lives for them better than they can run them for themselves?

We are completely blind as to context, ignorant in spades, but have no problem rising high to the moral pulpit, a preacher of one, naming, shaming, and disparaging others in our great . . . . um . . . it is not wisdom . . . what is it?

Emotionalized sense of self-righteousness.

I do it. You do it.

We need a lot less of it.

We are becoming hostile people, arrogant and self-righteous. Sneering at decent folks with the ease of not having to speak to their faces, from two feet away. Not having to see the car. Not having to protect teammates. Not having to have any facts whatsoever other than the illusions in our mind.

That’s what we operate on much of the time. From the illusions in our mind.

Define insanity.

“But Joe, you saying we can’t criticize anyone?”

Well, it depends on what you want. If you want a less angry, more inclusive, more rational living environment, yes, you should step back from the easy criticisms. The world does not have to align to your moral judgment. You join the cruel, the ignorant, and become the problem if you speak from a base of knowledge that is just illusions. When you could have simply listened instead.

But if your context is contest, then criticize away. If you are an advocate for human rights, of course criticize the abusers. If you see stupidity in government, call it out. If you want to stop someone else from speaking wrongly, in illusions, clarify the scene.

But do it with a fly buzzing in your conscience. That you probably don’t have all the information. That you may be wrong or unfair.

Do it with a willingness to listen.

I think if enough people did that, we’d step back from this horrible social media conversational arena we engage in today, thick easy judgment and hostility always rolling off our typewriters.

If we are the problem, we must be the solution.

 

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