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iStock 000070651769 SmallOk, we’ve all done it, I’ve done it, I’m not claiming to be morally superior in this department, and basically that’s what I want to write about today.

Facebook, TV, YouTube and conversations are the likely places to find a bit of moral outrage. If you’re really in the mood to be pissed off about something, you have plenty to choose from, whenever you like. Somebody is always objecting to something and we’re all invited to join in expressing how terrible and awful it is. Animal cruelty, environmental destruction, racism, domestic violence, economic genocide, corruption, bullying, unfair legal systems, sexual abuse, misogyny, poverty, you name it.

Maintream TV current affairs programmes are a classic. Recently we’ve had a whole series of reports telling us to be outraged about “hoons”, basically people doing burnouts on public roads for fun. We get the dodgy builder ones, dole bludgers are ripping off your tax dollars, all that kind of thing. Meanwhile, people all over the world are being bombed, starved, tortured, enslaved, raped and so on, the planet is being destroyed, and there’s barely a peep about it.

Whatever your views on these particular kinds of stories, what I can’t get past is where they fit into the overall scheme of things. We’re more interested in the latest celebrity scandal than we are about blatant injustice on a global level.

There’s a big difference between sharing information you have made an effort to check is accurate, referenced or at least stated as opinion for the purpose of spreading awareness and inviting discussion and more information, and just wanting something to get all angry about.

Some people like to keep their personal opinions about controversial topics private and quiet, or at least express them in a very restrained way. I’ve tended to be a bit like that, not wanting any confrontation, not wanting to invite people to disagree with me. I’m getting a little more adventurous now though – a conscious choice to be more comfortable with some people not liking me, you know, character building.

Other’s truly don’t care about silly things like being approved of and are quite comfortable making tasteless jokes (subjective, of course), or sharing very strong opinions about anything.

The ones I tend to stay away from are those where there is little factual information, it seems likely to be biased and the truth bent, or there is no actual point to it other than a stream of comments saying stuff like what terrible things they would like to happen to the person being outraged about or making identity statements or generalisations about them, like “what a dickhead” or whatever (yes, that’s pretty mild compared to a lot of comments).

The thing is, we can ask ourselves what is the motivation behind the news story or post or meme or comment. Is it intended to inform, or to distract from more important issues, or just to create a bit of drama for people to indulge in.

I think there is a place for it sometimes. There is so much repressed anger about so many things we have not dealt with personally, and there are harmless ways of using a bit of light entertainment to let off steam. For example, watching The Voice, and arguing with the judges’ decisions, that kind of thing.

But why would we want to waste the opportunity, while we still have it, before further censorship and propaganda creeps in, to use this fantastic resource we have available to us to share information in a way which can educate, inspire, expose the truth and lead to actual positive change within our culture.

So as we all respond to the next awful thing that pops up on the news or facebook or whatever, let’s pause for a moment and ask ourselves a few questions, like:-

- Is it accurate, or might it be propaganda. Is it partly true but put into a particular context for a particular motivation? What is the source of the information? Who are they, who’s paying them, who do they work for?

- Is it the real issue or a symptom of the real issue? If it’s a symptom, what actually is the real issue, if you follow it right through and keep asking why?

- Who benefits, what narrative is being supported by this information being presented this way?

- What else is going on that is not being talked about?

- What is YOUR motivation for responding to the news or information? Do you want to express moral outrage, sympathy, support, sadness etc so that you can be seen to fit in, so that you give the appearance of caring about the right things? How much do you fear questioning things or expressing alternative possible interpretations?

- Where do your real priorities lie? What are your real options to genuinely contribute to solutions and awareness? Are you being the change you want to see? Are you setting an example?

Expressing hate, for any reason, even towards those who have committed evil atrocities, is still perpetuating hate. It’s still judgement.
Not that I’m against making fun of the idiocy of government policies and politician’s antics, but there are ways of expressing ourselves with intelligence, humour and being real about it which do not perpetuate hateful attitudes.

There is much in the world for us to be pissed off about, particularly those things which affect us directly. The way we respond and deal with things demonstrates our character and sets the example for others of how we DO want the world to be. Are we being part of the problem and joining the gang, or are we being more thoughtful and discerning about our responses to what is going on around us?


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