I am reading Humankind by Rutger Bregman and he makes a compelling case, backed by science and anthropology studies over centuries, that humans are wired for kindness and goodness.
So why are Canadians so deeply divided?
Bregman points to two forces media and power. Humans are wired to feed their negative biases. When something exceptional happens that is ‘newsworthy’ the media sits at the hairpin turn to sensationalize. And today digital media does that on steroids. They know exactly who you are. They know what will shock and awe, what your fears and beliefs are and they spoon feed it to you alongside a big helping of juicy personalized ads. They herd you with like-minded people who confirm all you know is true.
And the second reason cited is power. For centuries the playbook for seizing power of a free society is to seed fear, uncertainty and mistrust then proclaim UNLESS WE HAVE POWER ALL WIlL BE LOST. They divide to conquer.
Is Bregman right?
Take a second and join me for a virtual drink at the middle ground. Let’s talk about the recent protest that began with truckers and became so much more nationally and globally.
Did you take one side over another?
Did you paint the other side with a single brush? All politicians are corrupt or all truckers are anti-acres or terrorists? (Or something to that effect?)
Were you increasingly confident in your position and increasingly repulsed by the other? Did you relish your news feed that confirmed your belief in who was good and who was evil? Did you find yourself turning to the channel of your choice and did you find it easy to share bits and bytes? When the emergency act was passed were you deeply for, deeply against or indifferent?
I think we were played like a pinball at the hands of a wizard. And every spin of media only widened our divide.
I have an idea. As Lennon said I might be a dreamer but I’m not the only one. Imagine turning off the news for a week. My bet is we would feel less definitive and defiant. We might open our minds to the scientific fact that the vast majority of all Canadians are decent and good. And they, like you live in a country that many admire for its freedom and tolerance. Millions around the world, if invited, would live here.
You don’t have to agree with them but that doesn’t mean you can’t trust them. That they too love Canada. They don’t want to take it down. They too want to build it better.
I hope we aren’t past that point to regain our belief in Canada and Canadians. We can’t let fear and mistrust win. The act passed last night will likely lead to many more protests, a firehose of sensationalism, requiring more force and more power grabs and an even greater divide.
And who wins through all of this? I know we don’t unless we trust each other.
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