Monday, October 5, 2015

The rush to judge

If you have read many of my entries you may have sensed a theme to many of them.  I strongly believe that most people are afflicted with emotional thinking and incapable, or simply uninterested, in attempting to exercise rational thought. Furthermore, I believe that the world around us encourages this behaviour*.

One example that I have seen recently seems to capture this phenomenon is the Pope's visit to Kim Davis.

Allow me to elaborate.  On my social media feeds I kept an eye on the Pontif's visit. I have deep personal respect for this man.  As Pope he is trying very hard to remind the Catholic church of it's role.  I also believe that he is doing his very best to recognize places where the Church has fallen short in recent decades.  He doesn't always get things exactly right, as in his recent statements on abortion, but he is trying.  And for the effort he is making to include rather than condemn, I believe he is the best Pope we have had in a long time and that he is an exemplary Christian.

And my social media feed was awash with other folks who were celebrating his visit to the US.  Yes, there was a fair bit of quipping about the state of traffic and the number of port-a-johns for the Papal visit, but, in general, all the noises were positive. Even some of my friends who identify themselves as Athiest or Pagan or Jewish or Muslim were supportive of this visit.  His address to Congress was a high-point for many readers. Quotes that came out of his meetings with House and Senate leaders pointed to the corruption in the American system and the need for reform. He was garnering a lot of liberal non-Catholic cred, just by being the devout man he is.

And then, it was announced that he went to see Kim Davis.

And almost like a light switch I could watch the very people and news sources that had praised him the day before, excoriate him.  There was no moment of reflection, people simply flipped from "love" to "hate" in the blink of an eye.  Or more accurately, in the time it takes to read 140 characters or less.

And the assumptions that were made, some of them were astounding.  Even friends who I can usually count on to examine a situation were leaping onto the social net to proclaim that this action had severely damaged any respect that they had held for the man. It demonstrated to me that even rational heads are capable of  being carried away by emotional thought.

We don't know what happened.  That is the bottom line.

As much as we clamour* for information, as much as we feel we have a right to 'know' what went on we don't know. And, I don't know if I would trust the now professional handlers of Kim Davis to tell the truth.  So we may never know.  And I can live with that.  It was a private conversation.

But I am straying from my point.  People have always been capable of both emotional and rational thought. Today's atmosphere rewards those who yelp the loudest. The substance of rational thought is being replaced by the emotional gratification of 'like', 'favorite', and 'diggs'.  And to garner those token rewards our conversation is becoming ever more superficial and superfluous.

Take a moment to walk back from the instantaneous edge of emotional thought, and instead, think. Because, one thing I have learned is this. It is better to add illumination, than heat.


*(Yes spell check, I know you don't like my 'u'. You think it extraneous, but I have some British blood and you will not impress me to abandon my English 'u' no matter how many little red lines you display. Deal.)

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