Hill to Die On: Something so important that it must be dealt with, despite the difficulty and potential problems that could result.
Our world has turned upside down. What initially began as a justifiable attempt to protect humanity from a novel disease has turned into an all-out war of culture, society, and politics. Disease is a cultural weapon, medicine is political, and we’ve tribalized society to a degree the modern world has never witnessed. Our future is in jeopardy, and nobody appears to be concerned. Worse, many have taken the collapse of society as an opportunity to feel purpose and connection in the most sinister way.
As a person who has spoken candidly about my perspective on ‘all things’ COVID-19, I have experienced childish maliciousness by fringe groups. In expressing my concern over the speed and ‘looseness’ in which we are approving vaccines for kids, I received messages suggesting that my family should be embarrassed by my point of view. In contrast, people on the ‘other side’ reacted with equally juvenile backlash when I rightfully refused to list my businesses in anti-vaccination passport apps and groups. When you publicly speak on a topic, people committed to an ideology immediately put you into a ‘with me’ or ‘against me’ box. Warriors of science lash out when I write about my support of parents who struggle with the decision to vaccinate their children. Government do-gooders react similarly when I point to evidence of a lab leak. When I voice my support of modern medicine or shoot down insane theories about the world’s elite releasing the virus to prevent our kids from reproducing, the conspiracy theorists get their panties in a knot. When I’m agreeable to a person’s ideology, I’m their friend and an expert voice of reason. When I say something that goes against the image that a person has wrongfully created of me in their head, I get attacked.
Life is difficult in the middle, but it’s where reasonable people live and where I’d prefer to remain. Contrary to what Twitter would tell you, I believe the center is where most people operate. Unfortunately, cool heads and nuanced conversations get overshadowed by emotionally dangerous fools. Most sensible people are afraid to say how they feel, and with attacks- like the above example directed at me- commonplace, who could blame a person for staying quiet? Human beings were designed to seek social safety and the comforts of tribal echo chambers. As for most of our primal instincts, ancestral colloquium does not serve modern people.
Initially, I was sympathetic to those with a point of view they were too afraid to share. Every day I receive messages from physicians, nurses, teachers, police officers and other professionals who feel as though unfair amounts of pressure are being placed upon them to get in line with actions they morally or ethically object to. Today, while understanding, I’m less compassionate toward those who stay silent in the face of all-out social war. I understand jobs are on the line, and well-being is at stake. I know the squeeze is being placed on you right now. I appreciate your concern about what your friends and family members will think about your point of view, and thus, think of you. Social paranoia is embedded in our primal brains, so who wants to deal with the stress and drama that comes with standing against the status quo?
Here’s the issue; the primary reason the status quo remains dominant is that there aren’t enough reasonable people willing to stand up for what they believe in. We have allowed dogmatic drama queens to control the conversation in our social spaces. Whether you’re on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you’re seeing the same voices saying the same things: COVID-19 vaccinations are 100% safe and irresponsible to question, or they will lead to the mass genocide of the human race. COVID-19 is the most deadly virus the world has ever seen, and we need to give up any rights necessary to save ourselves, or the virus isn’t even real. SARS-CoV-2 came from eating bats in a Chinese wet market, or the government created it to destroy the world. Absolute statements like these are hyperbolic, and quite frankly, dumb. No well-meaning, intelligent person would find themselves on either side of those arguments if s/he took the time to think about how we arrived here. But when these polarizing viewpoints are the only variety that the media allows to rise to the surface, you begin to believe the entire world is on one side or the other. Still, you’re alone in the middle- probably feeling as though you should lean one way or the other. A human without a tribe is a human in peril. Eventually, you feel like an outcast, and in a social world, you’ll go against your instincts and join a team.
Complete groupthink is a tipping point we must prevent. If reasonable people in the middle disperse to the obnoxious fringes of the argument, we will never get to what is right, proper, or best for our world. If reasonable people refuse to put pressure on overarching agencies, we leave them to their own devices. Society will allow ruthless people who have little concern for the average citizen to decide what is best for the whole, and I can assure you decision-makers at the top do not have your best interests at heart.
A separated society is what tyrannical governments prefer as it will enable the facade of democracy to perpetuate while those at the top remain in control of the population. Power will continue to erode from the hands of citizens while mobilizing upward to the 1%. Government agencies, public health systems, and all other publicly funded organizations are supposed to serve the will of the people. The blatant dishonesty and manipulation tactics- which have been prevalent since early 2020- signal that citizens are not in control of our leaders. If this all sounds like crazy talk, I suggest you read a history book (or two). The tyranny story has played out multiple times in the last century alone, yet you believe tragic, tyrannical events can’t happen today. That is a simple-minded person’s thinking. When you look back upon history and ask, “how did citizens allow things to get so out of control?” the answer is reasonable people stayed quiet during pivotal moments like these.
We are all making the critical but natural human error of forgoing the stark reality of the future for what appears to be today’s best survival tactic. “How can I speak up when people at work will shit on me? How can I take a stand when it could affect my livelihood? How can I do what I feel is right if it affects my child’s ability to attend a school or his favorite extra-curricular activities?” I understand the right choice is complex, and some of us are in a better position to take a stand than others. Still, the question to ask yourself is, “what will the world be like if I don’t say how I feel?” Or even more pertinent, “how will I feel about my silence if my children grow up in a disadvantaged society?”
I apologize if this essay appears vague; my goal is not to convince you which perspective you should take on any of these matters. Where you land on any of the topics mentioned above isn’t important. How you get to your point of view and how you debate it with the other side is what matters most. Are you saying what you believe, or are you saying what feels safe to discuss? Is your view based on various sources of evidence or an over-committed narrative? Do you consider opposing opinions in good faith, or are you out to ‘peacock’ your artificial value system to your tribe? Statistically speaking, you make up the latter. *See ‘The Dunning Kruger Effect’.
I write posts like this with a single motivation; to help people- regardless of stance- to be courageous. I speak up to encourage others to say how they feel regardless of the social cost. No person on the face of this planet will encounter a moment in time more crucial for standing up for what she believes in. Now is the time to pick the hill on which you are willing to die. If you have something to say and refuse to say it, you compromise your integrity and will live to regret it. So regardless of your position, I implore you to be part of the conversation so we can begin moving the narrative to the moderate majority. Otherwise, we leave the world’s voice to nasty, ideological dogmatists, and it will eventually become the reality of our planet, our culture, and our societies. At which point, everyone will realize the egregious error we have made, and it will be too late.