We can no longer afford to let hatred and intolerance define us

Those of an age will recall the Disney image of a swarm of Arctic lemmings hurtling themselves towards a cliff’s edge (and certain doom), an image which led to the term “lemmings” entering the vernacular as synonymous with suicidal group tendencies—an image of “the mob” being mindlessly being led to their destruction by their leaders. While that Disney image has long been debunked (and the self respect of those poor benighted denizens of the tundra having been at least somewhat restored), watching the evening news these days one is left to wonder if humanity is destined to replace lemmings as the poster child for self destruction.

As right thinking mammals, humanity must pull itself back from the brink and let those leaders who would take us to mass destruction plummet into the obscurity they deserve. We need to grow up.

Technology has coalesced the immolation of the human race into an ever growing number of red buttons. At least one of those buttons is currently in the care and keeping of a person whose daily diatribes spew hatred, intolerance and fear (okay at least two). The cliff’s edge for humanity (and most of the rest of the world’s species) is but the press of a single digit away, while most of us are staring into our laps at a small LED screen that reinforces the very worst tendencies of our species. We need to look up.

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We can no longer tolerate intolerance. We simply cannot afford it. How long can it be, with today’s incredible speed of technological advancement, before weapons of mass destruction can be laser printed in someone’s living room? Soon (if not already) human beings will be capable of creating custom life forms in a basement with the potential to cause widespread pandemic.

Perhaps this is Mother Nature’s way of keeping us in check. Like lemmings who have outgrown their food supply, we hurtle toward a self-inflicted Armageddon, egged on by our neighbours on either side, bringing balance once again to the earth.

Is there hope? Yes, but it lies within each and every one of us to find that hope. To not let those who would spew hatred, anger and fear become our leaders.

One hundred years ago this November 11 the world saw a glimmer of hope as much of humanity dragged itself out of the trenches to celebrate the end of the War to End All Wars and the dawn of a new day. The calamity of modern warfare saw millions perish, either directly by bomb, bullet and bayonet, or through visitation by the other three horseman of the Apocalypse which inevitably accompany it. The next global war will see those numbers escalate into the billions.

As consumers of the news-entertainment industry, we have become insulated from much of the worst impacts of war, viewing the devastation and grief through our video screens war seems something that happens to other people in other places, far, far (and safely) away.

But then a Pittsburgh happens and the joyful celebration of an oh-so-ordinary family turns to horror and grief and 11 aged worshipers are cut down in a house of God. We mourn and we rail. But while it may be tempting for many to place the responsibility for this horror at the doorstep of Donald Trump, and he does deserve his share, the terrible truth is that we are all complicit in this mass race towards the precipice. We will not end hatred and intolerance with more hatred and intolerance.

We need to stop spreading hate and learn to live and let live, or we will all soon be plummeting to our doom.

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