Opinion: Please Crusade in Moderation
By Jessica Greenman, Columnist
As news cycles become yet shorter and crueler, I humbly propose that we slow down. Put away the crusader’s sword, at least for now.
This is hard to do. We see injustice in the world. People have been wronged, and still suffer ill effects. We have, for the first time in human history, the ability to constantly see and hear about the wrongs occurring to people who are not ourselves or our peers. It is our responsibility, then, to use our comparative power to step up and save the world.
The argument that headlines and clickbait do not represent the true nature of the political and social crises which hobble our nation is a tired one, and I will not rehash it here. Suffice to say that it is true: everything is more complicated than Twitter wants you to believe.
Instead, I submit that our enthusiasm for justice and predisposition to outrage can actually harm efforts to create a kinder, fairer world. Complex issues demand complex solutions, and our thirst for immediate redress impedes the development of these solutions. Effective change often happens slowly. We can point to breakthroughs in history, but these are almost always accompanied by bloodshed and terror, not to mention the seeds of resentment that only perpetuate future injustice.
What’s more, our haste to correct the wrongness we see carries the danger of cheapening the wrong itself. We run the risk of speaking out on behalf of someone who neither wants nor needs our activism. By weaponizing their stories in pursuit of a political goal, we fail to recognize their pain for what it is—pain, suffered by real people who have their own values and convictions and may not hold the same values as we do. Before we spring into action, it is our responsibility to slow down, acknowledge the wrong, listen to the victims and their wishes, and then decide on solutions… with them, not for them.
If necessary, take a news break. A lengthy one. You are not neglecting your community by failing to stay informed. Information on its own helps no one, and may even harm you as the reader by pushing you into a permanent state of worry and outrage. There are plenty of problems to go around. They will still be there when we are able to develop more effective, more appropriate, and healthier solutions.
I often hear that “if you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying close enough attention”. I don’t think that’s true. I believe that it is possible, even necessary, to think deeply about our challenges without fury. We can feel outrage without using outrage. So put down the sword for now, please. Let’s talk.