No one is immune to making mistakes, without trial and error our innovative society would cease to exist and curiosities starved to point of extinction. Humans are fallible creatures, yet an element making us robust is repentance, the ability to make amends for the burdens we have begotten. As religion become institutionalized people were given a set of guidelines depicting right and wrong, and since then judging the behaviour of others has become a forte for community members. Although within the framework of nearly all religions is atonement, in practice we are much more inclined to keep prejudice against those who have once faulted.
Our current society is rampant with individualism and has deepened the culture of criticism, people more apt at denouncing than understanding. There was once a time for debate, now it appears discourse is removed and replaced with slogans and abhorrent noises to make one’s case. Is it possible for individuals to remove the social conditioning of condemnation, to appreciate the beauty in our imperfect nature?
A Toxic Pond
For many the inclination to detest anything contrary to their beliefs is so potent it changes their worldview, purposely scouting differing opinions or faults of others to inflict their rage. Since the 70’s, the original politically correct movement has snowballed into the aggressive matter-of-fact mentality seen today.
One cannot deny the benefits of updating fraying aspects of society, but instead of appreciating what can be learnt from unraveling the constituents, protesters intend to rip it all down without examination leaving the underlying issues in place for an equally detrimental notion to be built upon. The last point isn’t a topic of rumination for those abrasive to people using “repugnant” language, what they intend, at least subconsciously, is to showcase their virtue by prohibiting the voice of their perceived enemies.
The mass media machine has been a salient catalyst in creating these outlooks by superciliously displaying the trails and tribulations of others, in particularly celebrities. When someone with fame falls from grace there isn’t a media vehicle sparing the person from judgment, and as community members we feel we have the right to question their behaviour from our self-imposed pedestal.
Why does corporate media incessantly utilize these strategies? Because the loudest reproaches are typically the one’s with the deepest insecurities, and if you can assist them in projecting their demons onto another they will be a loyal audience member.
With technology’s evolution more media platforms have surfaced giving people the ability to instantaneously communicate about anything with an abundance of individuals, adding to the already indulgent status of one’s thoughts. With a synthetic stream of content flowing through civilization one can shield themselves from opposing views, nurturing biases and enlarging hubris. A result sees people have an almost allergic reaction to anything divergent to their beliefs; instead of the potential for dialogue, an ideology has formed permitting the reputational tarnishing of anyone with dissimilar views.
Gossip is nothing new to the human experience and has been a facilitator of our intellectual advancement, but contemporarily its toxicity has poisoned the pond we swim in.
Overcoming Social Conditioning
A major issue with the social conditioning we have undertaken is the labels we are given, many of these some won’t let others forget. In our society there is no harder tag to remove than convict, even after people have shown remorse, done their time and been “rehabilitated”, the label stops most from becoming valued members in society. When they are thrown back into their old life with scarce access to employment and dwindling finances, it’s not so far fetched to see why there are so many repeat offenders.
How much does one have to repent for their previous indiscretions? It appears even if someone actively alters their mentality and changes behaviour it may not be enough to please the people casting their eyes down on them.
A man who spent countless hours ruminating on the psyche of the deranged and malevolent is Dostoyevsky, stating, “Nothing is easier to denounce the evildoer, nothing more difficult than to understand him.” Just as people want to tear down out-dated parts of society, majority are content in condemning people’s actions without full thought of their motives, ethics and values.
The culture we have been raised in has subliminally taught us to project our inadequacies onto others, in doing so we have depreciated our investigation into root causes and settled for the superficial displays of conduct.
Thousands of years before Fyodor, another fascinating mind also contemplated the actions of others. He believed instead of becoming indignant with some people a vital question should be asked of oneself, “What does this person know about the good and bad life?” The Stoic Caesar Marcus Aurelius came to be unsurprised by human behaviour because he considered the actions of an individual to be a reflection of their philosophical stances, and when they are lacking it’s without disbelief he observed oddity in their actions. This simple mental exercise allows people to not only see the wounds of disease, but examine the bacteria creating it.
A pursuit into the workings of human nature isn’t complete without delving into the darkest parts of humanity, within us all lies both good and evil yet to condemn someone perennially for previous actions can also be vindictive. If we are to break the habit of judgement one needs to be able to remove themselves from their own conscious and try to understand what’s happening inside those displaying a sordid temperament; there resides an innate goodness in humans and going against it indicates shortfalls in one’s development.
Repentance doesn’t merely mean to say sorry but to intentionally modify the mind to see the faults in one’s behaviour, and as fallible creatures we deserve the opportunity to re-piece ourselves together and engender a better version.
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