Growing up where I did, just south of Glasgow, “different” meant Catholics and The English. The tribal gap between Rangers and Celtic supporters was immense and carefully maintained. Being an English kid whose parents had moved north through work would be enough to get you bullied in the playground. Thankfully from an early age I realised just how mad this was.
Now, having travelled as much as I have, and having friends of every colour, creed, and sexual identity all around the world I truly struggle to understand how difference can be so important. Why is identity so fragile that people become blind to the fact that we are all human beings, facing the same challenges, with the same hopes and fears?
I distrust tribes. I get bored around groups of blokey blokes. I’ve been to one football match and hated the crowd mentality. Even the “do you want to be in my gang” side of office politics has me running in the opposite direction. Sublimating your self to the tribe, going along with the majority, not wanting to stand out, this is where it starts.
When you ask someone with racist views why they have a black friend they invariably say “oh they are different, they’re not like the rest”. Bollocks. You just don’t know the rest and have consigned them all to being different, to being “them”.
There is no them. There’s just us, all of us. Don’t let your tribe convince you otherwise.
So many people said to me that I should watch West World. They were right! Finished watching Series 3 last night.
What a complex, fascinating roller coaster. The show touches on so many of the issues that fascinate me; Artificial Intelligence, morality, free will, society, power, conditioning, and on and on… So many overlaps with dreams I have had, things I have written, they even played a bit of Dark Side Of The Moon in the last episode!
What struck me though was how many of the issues raised are becoming ever more current for us as each day passes. Watching our trust in “the elite” diminish even further. “The Truth” becoming totally malleable. Seeing people protest under intolerable pressure. Excited to be getting back into space again but very aware that it is in a billionaire funded spacecraft.
If you haven’t watched West World – do!
As we read our feeds, and react to the things we see, we are buffeted backwards and forwards by our emotional reactions. “That’s good”, “That’s bad”, “I wish I’d done that”, “Oh my God that’s awful!”.
Emotions wash through us based on nothing but opinion. Sometimes powerful emotions that take their toll on our nervous systems. But none of what we are reading or watching is happening here and now or happening to us. None of it is real.
We convince ourselves that we should care, that to not react to what we are seeing would be inhuman. But we are indulging ourselves. We are entertaining ourselves with the endorphin rush. We easily become addicted.
And once we are addicted we can be manipulated. Someone else can yank our chain.
Sitting in the sunshine in the garden with my phone (and the internet) well away from me. I am listening to an Audible book fed from my watch to one headphone (so that I am not cut off the from the wonderful early morning sounds around me) and dictating notes on the book (which are automatically transcribed) also on my watch. This is why I love technology.
– NOUN [mass noun]
the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles:
a gentleman of complete integrity.
Most of us want to think well of ourselves, to feel that we have “done the right thing”. We certainly want others to think well of us, to be seen as trustworthy and reliable.
What happens when people gain power or fame that so often causes them to lose this? Do they think we won’t notice? Do they think we don’t care? Do they consider themselves above normal rules of behaviour?
Do they think “I can’t help being a wee shit but it is in everyone’s best interests that I am”?
What on earth goes through their heads?
Ok, so I have been responsible for my fair share of them, but when you realise how many millions upon millions of words are written every second all around the world – and how few of them make a difference or are rememberered – it is a sobering thought.
Especially in business. How many reports get written that no one reads? How many reports end up being the length they are and have the sections they do just because people mindlessly followed the template? How many arse covering emails get written – just in case?
What if we wrote better? What if we wrote to make a real difference? What if more of our words counted? What if our words counted for more?