For the past few weeks, our news media has covered little besides the protests against various government health mandates. Most people have called them the Canadian Trucker protests, although not everyone agrees this is the correct name. The controversy surrounding these demonstrations has continued, even after they ended.
One of my central beliefs in life is that what we believe to be true is true, at least it is true for us. This fact (or at least, I believe it’s a fact) contributes to why it has been so challenging to reach any kind of consensus on these protests.
Bigots in the Crowd
The crowd of protesters at times contained people carrying hate-themed signs and flags. Their blatant bigotry understandably caused a public outcry. Some people against the protests chose to assume these beliefs permeate the whole group.
That was easy to do, given the amount of time the media spent talking about that aspect of the demonstrations. Of course, the press gobbled up this development, giving the hatemongering demonstrators precisely what they want: attention and help to disseminate their views. It was kind of like their own personal fifteen minutes of infamy.
I’ve often wondered what would happen if the media didn’t show up. I realize their job is to report the news, but guys, the various details about what individual protesters were spewing weren’t the news. Those using these protests to push their hateful views held another rally last year, the year before, and the year before that. Perhaps the first time they showed up, it was “news,” but now it’s “olds” and not worthy of coverage.
What is Truth, Anyway?
I have a hunch that if the media (and when I say media, I include the social media live streamers and influencers) didn’t show up, those who are only there to wave hateful and prejudiced signs would be in a basement somewhere. We need oxygen to sustain our lives and would die without it. The media needs controversy for the same reasons.
My perspective on the bigots in this crowd is a bit different. To me, it isn’t a curiosity for reporters to breathlessly narrate, nor is it a cudgel with which to beat one’s political opponents.
I grew up in a country that not only practiced bigotry but it also legislated it. Racism was mandatory, and jail time potentially awaited those who thought otherwise.
In South Africa, the colour of your skin determined everything.
- Where you could live;
- What schools you could attend;
- Where you could work;
- Which hospitals you could go to;
- Where you could sit on a bus;
- Which washrooms you could use;
- Which restaurants you could patronize;
- Who you could hang out with; and,
- Whether you could vote.
There was even a law called the “Immorality Act,” which made criminals of those who had sex with someone of a different race. TV host Trevor Noah has written a book about being the child of a couple who broke this law.
Fortunately, this mandated racism ended almost thirty years ago. Now South Africa has only to contend with the regularly-practiced racism that happens there, here and everywhere else on earth. The type of flawed thinking that leads adherents to believe in their own superiority and direct hatred towards specific groups.
Being born in a country with legislated racism doesn’t mean I understand it better. I don’t. I just don’t get it. I do understand disliking someone, and I can even understand hate.
You might hate me for some real or imagined slight injustice, crime or other misdeeds that I personally have levied against you. That part I get. (Even though I think to know me is to love me.)
But to hate me simply because I belong to a particular group? That defies comprehension.
You hate everyone with green eyes. You don’t know me, but I have green eyes. Therefore, you hate me. That makes no sense to me.
People with the mindset that there is some “other” out there whom they dislike on principle rob themselves of the opportunity to experience magnificent relationships with their fellow members of the human race.
One thing unites us as human beings, and that same thing divides us. That is our inclination to inflate our beliefs into truths we deem irrefutable.
We all have things we individually believe to be true, of course. When we believe something to be true, it IS true for us. Our brain automatically views it as an undeniable fact, not simply an opinion that might be flawed.
On the other hand, it is possible to remember that our natural tendency is to view our beliefs as truth and guard against it to more easily see others’ views.
When we impose our negative or critical beliefs on an entire group because we genuinely believe those beliefs to be facts, we are just telling the world how limited we are in our capacity to think.
Till we read again.