Opinion: False alarms

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“This is so very important that nothing else matters! Our ends assuredly justify the means. We are smart people. We have spent some time thinking about this problem. And we know that we have the only correct solution.” So goes the narrative. Agree with us, or those opposing are open to all manner of attack, polite or otherwise. Many imagine that others, with differing points of view, are stupid, evil and deserving of rebuke. It is all so very convenient to dismiss them, to vilify those who are otherwise not villains.    

Truly, there are a handful of critical realities where personal space must be allowed. But do we often restrain the behavior of other adults only to force them to conform with our current state of mind? History is littered with tales of our certainty gone wrong. Countless heretics died only to be proven correct only a few years later, small consolation. Still, we collectively tolerate the intolerance.

Social media is rife with the clarion call: This is so important that the rules don’t apply; I’m so important that the rules don’t apply; I’m in such an emotional state that the rules don’t apply. Even so, isn’t there some value in adhering to a minimum standard? When are we able to suspend social order? How extreme must be the case? Have we slid too deep into the morass when we each decide what we can say to others and not to what we will allow them to say to us? When words are called violence and legislative votes are called murder, how do we confront actual violence and actual murderers? Are they the same thing?

If we find ourselves always on high alert, when do we start ignoring the sounding of the alarm? Are we destined miss a genuine warning?


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