Friday, July 31, 2015

The Friday Four, Part 129


A few years ago, I read a book by Kathryn Schulz called Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margins of Error that (along with Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind) fundamentally changed the way I approach learning, disagreements with others, and making mistakes, as well as my own view of the world. (Read my goodreads review here.) Seriously paradigm-shifting book.  Go read it. Really.

And then I stumbled on her TED talk from 2011. (Watch/read it here. Really. Right now.) And now I need to go re-read her book.

She talks about how being wrong feels just like being right. How our fear of being wrong limits our ability to learn and stretch and grow. How our certainty in our own rightness can lead to disastrous results. How recognizing our own fallibility can lead to greater understanding and improvement. How some of the most wondrous, open, vulnerable, and powerful words in the English language are, "Wow! I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong."

And I begin to wonder if this isn't why humility is lauded as such a precious and valuable virtue, and pride such a dangerous sin, because the one opens us up to the chance that we don't have all the answers, the possibility of being wrong which allows us to learn and to better understand each other, while the other rejects that possibility and the growth and connection to others that could accompany it.


Recently, I have been following the heart-breaking news stories - and lots of opinion pieces from across the political and social spectrum - about Sandra Bland and others who have either died in police custody or been killed by police. (For example, for an interesting pairing of pieces that came to different conclusions on the legality of Sandra Bland's arrest, read this and this.)

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article about the effect of police body cams and dash cams - and bystander video - on public perception of use of force, as well as on indictments and prosecutions of police officers. Please note that when you click over to the article, the accompanying video starts playing automatically. It's a disturbing and upsetting video, so consider this a trigger warning. It shows clips of several high profile shootings or arrests including Samuel Dubose; Sandra Bland; teenagers in McKinney, Texas; Freddie Gray; Walter Scott; Antonio Zambrano-Montes; Tamir Rice; and Michael Brown.

And in this Washington Post piece, a soldier who served in Iraq provides perspective from his experience on both sides of a raid. He compares current police policy and procedure to the ineffective and ultimately counter-productive policies he used as a solider in Iraq, as well as the progress that was made when, as he says, "We refined our warrior mentality — the one that directed us to protect ourselves above all else — with a community-building component." His conclusion:
The culture that encourages police officers to engage their weapons before gathering information promotes the mind-set that nothing, including citizen safety, is more important than officers’ personal security. That approach has caused public trust in law enforcement to deteriorate...Domestic police forces would benefit from a similar change in strategy. Instead of relying on aggression, they should rely more on relationships. Rather than responding to a squatter call with guns raised, they should knock on the door and extend a hand. But unfortunately, my encounter with officers is just one in a stream of recent examples of police placing their own safety ahead of those they’re sworn to serve and protect.

The internet and social media have been flooded lately with things to be upset and even outraged about. Sometimes they are trumped up issues; sometimes they represent real injustices. In most of these topics I'm a bystander, but just reading the outrage, the insults, the epithets, the refusal to listen or acknowledge another point, is draining.

In the article How Long Can the Internet Run on Hate, mob mentality and how it relates to social media is discussed. Anyone can make incendiary comments and literally destroy people's lives with little more than rumor or innuendo. Of course, there are people who deserve to be called out, but there are also people who don't.
Public shaming as a deterrent does not work. It does not make positive change. It does not magically create more “freedom” for others. 
Public shaming is, however, an effective means of ruining the lives of singled-out individuals.
But the web runs on it anyway.
This is not, as Ronson points out, a political construct. The web runs on a currency of shame regardless of your political party.
“It happens on the left. Then on the libertarian right—those who are, in theory, diametrically opposed to social justice—people also get outraged, but they don’t call it that. It’s on both sides of the fence,” says Ronson. “The hardest, coldest, most extreme people are winning.”
Ronson thinks it detracts from real social justice—issues of systemic, abject corruption and abuses of power—that is happening because of policy and power structures, not bystanders.
“This is not social justice. This is a cathartic alternative to social justice,” he says. “It’s become this amorphous way to destroy anybody that we don’t like.”
As Glennon Melton said once, "If you're not kind on the internet, you're not kind."

And then there's this pointed article: "Who Would Jesus Troll?"
God's commandments to love don't change just because we're in front of a computer screen or a smartphone.
When we proclaim we are hurting people on social media in the name of the gospel, we disrespect ourselves, we disrespect our faith, and we disrespect our God.
Amen. Please see point number one above.


And now, some cute, fuzzy, adorable kittens, because sometimes that's just what you need.

No comments:

Post a Comment