Dita Parker

Friday, February 13, 2015

Be kind, rewind

'Tis the season to be jolly... Well, it is, sweetie darlings, carnival season! Followed by lent, which is all about penance, abstinence, giving up, letting go. Of what? Carne vale means a farewell to meat but there are better ways to fast than a forty-day vegetarian streak.

What if we gave words a rest this lent? Spoke less, listened more. Wrote less, read more. Rich coming from someone whose livelihood depends on how one uses words and language? That's just it, dearest denizens. How do we use our voices? Are we all mouth and no ears? All busy fingers and blind eyes? It sure feels like it as you move around the World Wide Wildness.

And it is a jungle out there, isn't it, one where words and sentiments such as pity, remorse and mercy play but a bit part, so it seems. How easy it is to cut someone down. All you need is 140 carefully chosen characters. Or just brush them off with a swift swipe. Or round up some friends and go after them, pitchforks sharpened, torches a-blazing and scathing scythe at the ready. You'll never have to face them. You don't even know them. You know nothing about them, all you have is a personal opinion and your private soon public emotions and we are all entitled to ours, but that's as far as our entitlement extends, isn't it?

At least it should be. But we take freedoms in the jungle, and what a free-for-all it is, one where entitlement knows no bounds. I feel some David Bowie coming my way... Oh man! Look at those cavemen go / It's the freakiest show / Take a look at the lawman / Beating up the wrong guy / Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know / He's in the best selling show... All the world's a stage and everyone wants their fifteen minutes, and so what if someone gets hurt, bleeding hearts of the world: unite! 

No, I'm not saying some don't deserve a good tongue-lashing, but that's an art right up there with every other form of using and choosing language. Start screaming and the opposition will only scream louder to make sure it's heard. Hiss and curse, vilify and objectify, and the opposition will only come up with something lower and lewder. Silencing someone, or attempting to, is the surest way to draw attention to them.

No, I'm not saying that banning words or the ones who misuse them is the answer. Quite the opposite. Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of opinion and the right to dissent are under constant attack all over the world, even in our parts. You know it's bad when your government, your government, starts distorting facts, suppressing truths, killing people based on metadata and attacking freedoms it has sworn to defend.

You know the end is nigh and that they're only getting started when they flash the for-your-own-protection card. I don't feel safe, I feel violated. I don't feel reassured, I feel hoodwinked. Utterly hoodwinked and disgustingly violated. The hubris. The hypocrisy! You want to rule the world you better listen to your subjects or else you're just another dictatorship.

There is nothing more dangerous than a freethinking human who refuses to be silenced. There is nothing more powerful than a freethinking person who demands to be heard. I hope that this carnival season, you celebrate your freedom and rights. And I hope that this lent, you honor your responsibilities.

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