Last night, I attended a Public Forum at the United Ministry Center on Campus entitled, "Why are We So Mean?" There were four panelists, two of whom I knew, and two others, all who were either ministers or professors (or variations of both). As I listened to all the conjecture, some I agreed with and some I did not, I had a little revelation of my own as to the possible cause of this "meanness" that is becoming so much more a part of the public square.
The world is becoming more global. Within the past, even 10 years, we have been bombarded with international news/culture/fashion/political issues/etc. There is so much more being thrown out there now than there used to be. This is not entirely a bad thing, in itself, I personally think that it is important to know what is going on in the world. That being said, it is inevitable that we are becoming a much more globally minded people.
I think this very simple fact is causing a lot of unrest and distress within people (on a very internal and personal level, possibly even subconsciously).
With everything new being brought to light and having to adapt in order to live in this type of world we are now living in, it is unsettling because "I no longer have to worry about just ME, in my community, but I have to worry about ME and my world, and what that looks like". I think that people, in the past century, have found themselves and were comfortable in their society because they knew their place in that society. This was something that was a given and a constant and they could rely on knowing who they were in relation to the 500 other people that they encountered on any given day. Now, however, there are international affairs affecting the lives of people in our own neighborhoods, there are inter-religious squabbles that are more prominent because people don't know how to react to all of this "new" ideology and they become insecure (not necessarily even knowingly) with themselves and how the "me" relates to the world now.
"me" has become so much smaller in a sense and the need to define "me" is so important, because one does not want to become just another random person in the mix, "me" still needs to know where I stand on things, what I believe, and so because of this....we have become so much more staunch in our debates, in our conversations with friends, and we will not back down in public discourse because to abandon "me" would be the worst thing one could do in the current global situation. (Or so we come to think).
This is all an opinion, and my opinion, so please take it with a grain of salt. (Not trying to start things, just sharing!) :)
I see the "mean" that is out there and the apparent need for it to always become an "us vs. them" type of ideology in almost ANY arena - not even being confined to the taboo subjects of religion and politics, but in more and more of what we talk about even with our friends and families. Why does it have to be an "us vs. them?" What makes "us" any better? Why can we not approach another human being and have the same decency given to them that we expect them to give to us? It seems very arrogant and ignorant to expect one to respect your opinions yet in return, slap them in the face with rhetoric and then be offended by what they say....
The public forum was very interesting and brought to light some very serious things that are happening and need to be resolved. Just thought I would share!