Friday, January 20, 2017

The Cult of Personality

The world moves at a faster pace than it previously has throughout history. Almost the whole of human knowledge can be gleaned from the Internet, and yet we choose to close ourselves off on public fora to any dissenting views and only allow those things that feed our bias.

On Facebook, and other social media sites, we usually befriend those people we know personally or people who have similar interests to us. This past election cycle saw many people "unfriending" others because of a difference in political beliefs. We have never been so connected to the whole of humanity before, and yet we consciously decide to keep ourselves ignorant of other cultures and certainly opinions that differ from our own!

When we unfriend somebody we are not contributing to a society where knowledge and information are freely shared, but we are contributing to a sounding board for our own bias and contributing to the sounding board of the person we unfriended's bias. Obviously, there are actual reasons to cut somebody out of your personal life and there are actual reasons to cut somebody out of your online life. But when we drop these people just because they believe differently from us we are doing more harm than good. We should instead ask them questions to understand where they are coming from, and not deride them for their beliefs. We need an actual exchange - a real conversation - to take place between two parties to find out what they truly believe and why they truly believe it. Deriding one another is only shutting down the path to unity.

The media, I believe, is to blame for this - at least in part. Think back to this last election, how did the media behave? Think back further to how the media behaves in almost any situation. It is usually an "us vs. them" narrative. Trump thinks that illegal aliens should be deported and that we should ban Muslims from entering the country - he's obviously a bigot and those that support him are bigots as well. Bernie espouses that evil socialism - he's a commie and the people who support him are blind idiots who still suck at their mommies' teats. Hillary is a supporter of women - to oppose her is to be sexist and misogynistic.

Journalists have ceased to uncover and investigate important stories in favor of keeping celebrities in our faces for better ratings. And when somebody does do some actual digging and uncovers a hard truth they are usually derided. Look at Julian Assange; during the Bush administration he was raked over the coals because he allowed leaked classified information to appear on WikiLeaks - and yet the Left loved him - but during this election, he posted Hillary's leaked emails and was raked over the coals - and yet the Right loved him. Actual journalism is discouraged, but we are encouraged to emulate these celebrities - these fake people - instead of cultivating ourselves.

Think about it, why do we let celebrities have so much say? Why are they always interviewed on things political? Why do their opinions matter to the rest of the country? These people are paid to put on a facade. Their job is to be fake, and being convincingly fake. They are going to have the opinions that their PR people tell them to have so they can remain relevant and keep working.

We spend so much time looking at celebrities and trying to be like them, and not enough time trying to be ourselves.

Don't get me wrong, we need role models to look up to. We need to be able to look towards something or someone as a goal to better ourselves. But it certainly doesn't need to be most celebrities.

Saint Paul tells us in his Epistle to the Philippians,
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phil 4:8, KJV)
We are to look to these pure things and think on these things. We need to look towards the lovely and just things. We are to think of virtuous things. I would dare say that we should not only look towards things, but to people who fit these categories as well, especially those who point the way to Jesus. I say we should be looking at the Saints as our role models, because they point the way to Jesus. We should obviously have Jesus as a role model as well. And we don't just have to look at the Saints, but we can look towards those who today - in the here and now - are pointing the way to Jesus.

I think that if we shirk off the celebrities and the media bias (on the Left and on the Right) and focus instead on bettering ourselves so that we can affect the change that we want to see. Instead of just believing the rhetoric we get from Fox News and CNN we should instead be engaging with our fellow man and finding out what it is that drives them. We have the technology right at our fingertips to reach out to somebody and actually talk to them.

Jesus engaged the sinners. He understood them on a complex level. He did not condone their sinful behavior, but He loved them all just the same. He rebuked when necessary.

We don't have to condone Trump supporters, we don't have to condone Hillary supporters, but we should want to understand our fellow man.
Post a Comment