I just can’t let go of the idealism that journalists and politicians truly desire to make the world a better place. At some time, each of them must have sat in a college class, hardly able to sit still through lectures on social injustices, and decided to do something about them.
It seems to me that political imperatives arise out of the mechanics of working within “the system,” and rising above that system is a challenge most of us do not take on. We have all seen the news about the toddler who was run over in China, and no one came to her aide. I have not been able to bring myself to watch the video, but there have been a flurry of theories rationalizing the behaviour, which points to our capacity to excuse and rationalize our actions, regardless of how gruesome. Judging the would-be samaritans in China, is similar to judging journalists and politicians. We take on “holier-than-thou” assumptions that we would behave better, yet there is resounding evidence that we wouldn’t.
I was reminded recently of the Zimbardo Prison Experiment, in which undergraduate students volunteered to play the roles of guards and prisoners. The most astounding outcome of the study was the shock the participants felt at their own behaviour. Why do we think we could not commit such atrocities ourselves?
Why do we think we would have the capacity to rebel against mainstream media, and start our own media outlet, putting into practice altruistic ideals, as Al Jazeera has successfully done?
What makes us believe we could stand up against a political system in the ways Gandhi or Lincoln or Mandela did? Not even Canada’s beloved Trudeau or Layton are above reproach, and I have faith that even Harper must believe he is doing what is best for his country.
If we stop believing in individuals, then we will stop believing in social good. It is our understanding of complex issues that must improve. All sides must seek to include opposing concerns.
Live within limits without limiting life
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