The Great Debate

Are animal crackers cookies or crackers?

This is the question of the week in our household. I strongly believe they’re cookies — they’re sweet and more dessert-like than they are savory — and Robert thinks they’re crackers. Who knows his reasoning, other than the fact that there is the word “cracker” in the name. All other evidence points to cookie, but I digress.

We like to talk about our differing opinions, and sometimes we can even change each other’s minds. I used to think Poptarts were better than Toaster Strudels. I do stand by that for the strawberry flavor, but a cinnamon Strudel is literally one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It’s basically a mix of a warm, perfectly crispy fried donut with a gooey cinnamon roll filling. How can anything beat that?!

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I think it’s so important for people to keep an open mind and continue to grow throughout every stage in life. I have changed a lot in the matter of a few short years, and it’s crazy to think that some of the opinions I have now will be different after I gather even more information and experiences. I look back at my old social media sometimes and think it’s strange to see how much has changed over time. Sure, I have had some big life-altering events like getting sick with POTS, but I’ve also just grown up and matured as an adult human being. My thoughts at even just 22 years old were very different than they are now, six years later.

The thing with humans is that we are dynamic and ever-changing. We meet new people who challenge us, we collect different experiences, and any sort of trauma often drastically alters our view of the world. This is why I think it’s so important that we change the “cancel culture” we live in. Far too often, we see someone’s rise to fame or notoriety completely trashed because of something they tweeted or posted on Facebook nearly a decade ago. I could list dozens of examples of people who have fallen in the public eye, and I’m sure you can think of several too. One of the scariest things about being a human being is that we all make mistakes. Sometimes we make little ones that won’t matter in the grand scheme of things, other times we make huge life-altering mistakes that we wish every day we hadn’t. We make mistakes we can’t take back, and realize we’ve done something wrong by the lump in our throat and pit in our stomach.

Ultimately, the greatest gift we can give other people is love, and sometimes this is in the form of forgiveness. Our cancel culture is a lot more harmful than people really seem to recognize. It is based on hate, rather than understanding or trying to gently teach someone how they can grow. This is ironic when the person at fault is being completely ripped apart by people who are trying to preach tolerance because the truth is, we don’t have to agree with someone to still show them love and forgiveness. Love is often the most powerful way to change people’s minds and help them see that maybe they still have some growing to do. Martin Luther King Junior said it best,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

There is a reason he is one of the most quoted people in American history. He was incredibly wise and someone who changed countless lives through exhibiting love in all that he did. He made peaceful protesting an art, and made an absolutely enormous impact on the world through his kindness and controlling his emotions well. He is someone who had every right to feel angry and frustrated and lash out, but he taught us that you can really get through to people by showing patience and love in your arguments.

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By living in a society based on canceling people who have made mistakes, we are essentially saying that unless someone is absolutely perfect, we will not accept them as worthy of having an opinion to share. This is problematic in so many ways. Not only does the cancel culture hurt people who have messed up, but it is ultimately scaring beautifully creative minds from sharing their talents and ideas with the world. Bright minds are now afraid to speak up because they know at one point or another that they don’t have a perfect past and have been wrong about something. In reality we all have, but it’s often a whole lot easier being critical of someone else than it is judging ourselves. It’s often merely a matter of who has unintentionally documented their mistakes on whether their career will thrive or completely tank before it even begins. There’s a difference between the past and present, and there is a difference between a one-time isolated incident, and being consistent in acting some kind of way. At the end of the day if we choose to hate every person for their uninformed past, we are going to miss out on some really amazing human beings. I hope we can move to a point where we can gently correct people, rather than tear them down with the insults and hatred that is so easily accessed with the invisibility of the Internet.

Opinions on The Internet

I’m kind of terrified to write about anything that could be remotely considered an opinion these days. The Internet is an amazing, but scary place. You can find information on any given topic and no matter how rare you feel like something about you is, 99% of the time you see person after person who has that in common with you. The computer is a fantastic place to connect people with one another, to rally around each other for causes or through hardships, and feel less alone in this big world. It’s a great way to gain knowledge and learn how to be more empathetic, and can be an incredible tool to help others.

I think most people are good and mean well. We all want to make the world a better place, we just sometimes have different ways of getting there. The biggest thing I see people fight about online is politics, but I’ve seen vicious arguments about something as trivial as whether Chips Ahoy or Oreo cookies are better. I see Republicans and Democrats fighting right and left (No pun intended), name-calling and bashing each other for having different solutions on getting to a similar end goal. Each and every one of them thinks their plan is the best way to bring peace on Earth and end great amounts of suffering in the world — they just disagree on the practical steps it takes to get there. Instead of realizing that they are, in fact, on the same team, people yell at each other and resort to name-calling. Rather than wondering why someone might feel there is a different solution, people remain stubborn and set in their ways, and neglect to open their mind to other ideas. It’s really dangerous when we stop critical thinking and forget how to communicate effectively with others. 

Politics is the easiest example to give, but I clearly am not going to be starting a blog talking about current political events, so why should I feel worried about being attacked on here?

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I am afraid to write about my opinions because people on the Internet can be so darn mean about nothing. I see celebrities bullied on a daily basis just for sharing their lives with their fans, and I see well-intentioned posts by girls in Facebook groups get attacked because someone was offended by the way something was worded. Everyone wants to be a social justice warrior so damn badly that they forget the people they are tearing down are human beings with hearts and feelings too. It’s so ironic. In my mind, these people just have one type of person they feel compassion and empathy toward — those who think the exact same way that they do.

One of my favorite quotes by Martin Luther King Jr is,

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

Another great one is,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

If you want to talk about tolerance and love, the first step is to be tolerant and loving. This means loving even those who are wrong.

MLK Jr is someone who truly understands what it’s like to be treated poorly, but chooses kindness anyway. He was a pioneer who changed life drastically for people who were not being treated well. He isn’t known for being offensive, rude, or condescending — rather, he is known for being kind and compassionate, even when he had every right not to be. He was the King of peaceful protests, and fought seamlessly for what was right while remaining calm and respectful. I think we could learn a lot from the way he handled conflict and injustice.

The truth of it is, we live in one of the most unforgiving times ever. A tweet from an angsty teenage version of someone ten years ago can completely destroy a career, a “like” on Instagram can lead to death threats, and voicing your opinion can be one of the scariest and bravest things you possibly do, especially if it is unpopular.

If the world keeps moving this way I think we’re going to miss out on so many creative minds. A world like this doesn’t promote creative thinking, rather it screams that you need to fit into a certain mold to be accepted and loved. I believe bullying is one of the worst things human beings are capable of doing, and I think there are so many online bullies who have absolutely no idea that they’re actually the ones who are being cruel. I’d love to see people ask more questions and find out why someone perceives the world differently than they do. Instead of trying to cram ideas down someone’s throat, find out why they believe what they do and have a civil conversation about it. Agreeing to disagree is what makes America such a great nation, and I hate seeing this notion getting flushed down the toilet with the age of the Internet. Great things will start happening when we learn to work with each other, rather than choosing to focus on and fight about our differences.