Perspectives: Simple ideas for improving our individual humanity

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OPINION – You don’t have to have a particularly jaded point of view to get the sense that a large part of society is unraveling before our eyes.

It’s most evident in a growing sense of inhumanity toward one another.

Millions of American adults appear to be settling in for a four-year temper tantrum over the outcome of this year’s election. Their partisan counterparts are matching their fanaticism by foolishly snuggling up to the victorious political party as if it were their friend and protector.

Meanwhile, elitists within the political class and mass media have shed any pretense of integrity and are ginning up a constitutional crisis or possible war over damning truths about their corruption coming to light.

Worst of all, the problem children seem intent on dragging the rest of us down with them into what’s looking more and more like a drunken brawl than a healthy, functioning republic. Their calculated dysfunction is spilling over into the rest of society, and it’s becoming as toxic as it is tiresome.

John W. Whitehead from the Rutherford Institute laments:

Every time I read a news headline or flip on the television or open up an email, I run headlong into people consumed with back-biting, partisan politics, sniping, toxic hate, meanness, unfriending and materialism.

At the one time of year when “peace on earth and goodwill towards men” should be at the forefront, this is not a positive development.

The good news is that those of us who don’t wish to behave like dogs fighting over scraps still have a number of viable ways to reclaim the things which genuinely matter to us.

We can start by recognizing a handful of essential truths.

Politics is a poison best avoided. The parties and politicians that have so many folks worked into a lather feel no reciprocal loyalty to the people they claim to represent. They see themselves as masters, not as servants or statesmen.

Their loyalty is to their bosses — that is, the special interests and donors who have funded their campaigns. Politician talk is cheap. Their actions reveal where their loyalty lies. Stop giving them your consent.

Pay more attention to the direction things are headed and less attention to simply what is happening in the present. You don’t have to be a psychic to recognize an unhealthy trend.

Misinformation is everywhere. All the posturing over so-called “fake news” by allegedly respectable outlets is nothing more than middle school theatrics. Most of the mass media information today is either not quite correct or thoroughly worked over before reaching us.

Our best source of unfiltered information remains the internet. Obviously, there is plenty of fact-free garbage online as well. Therefore, we must be willing to become students with integrity on those things which matter most to us.

This requires sincere and dedicated effort, but it is not an impossible task. More important than knowing the answer to a given question is knowing how to find someone who knows the answer. That requires humility.

A person who is teachable will never remain in the dark for long.

Leonard E. Read said it best when he wrote:

The individual who practices integrity is teachable for, by definition, he is a Truth seeker.

John Whitehead had a number of highly valuable suggestions that could also improve the quality of our world where it counts the most – starting right where we live.

He suggests we start by limiting our time spent in virtual communities and tune into what’s happening in our families, our communities and our world. This means rationing our screen time and cutting back on social media.

The unpleasant depth of our addiction to technology and social media becomes immediately apparent when we first start limiting our access to them.

Whitehead also suggests dialing back the “us versus them” rhetoric and thinking and instead, getting actively involved with community nonprofits, neighbors and our own family members. He also recommends showing compassion to those in need, being kind to those around us and forgiving people who have wronged us.

Feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and comforting those who are brokenhearted or lonely doesn’t require an advanced degree or certification. It only requires willingness to recognize that we are all in this together, and the differences we tend to obsess over tend to matter very little in the long run.

A person who is genuinely trying to be kind to others will find it difficult to be as fear- and enemy-driven as the problem children would like us to be. Another added benefit is how our children and grandchildren will learn these lessons from the power of example.

These actions will not solve all the world’s problems. They will, however, make us less likely to contribute to the growing inhumanity, even if by accident.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator, radio host and opinion columnist in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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4 Comments

  • comments December 19, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Well said.

  • .... December 19, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    This is temporary people change and move on and times change and move forward this is just brief moment in time

  • Tom Flynn December 19, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    Brian – Agree with the above – well said. On a related note, I feel that some of the ‘click bait’ at it’s termed and appears on many websites along with news stories must be diminishing our humanity in some small way – it’s reactive, fosters impulsivity, and typically involves a topic no one is better off for having researched (‘you’ll be shocked by…fill in the blank).

    Just a minor sidebar there, but consciousness of the volume of minor things that diminish our collective humanity, as well as the big things, is helpful.

    Again, nice article & Happy Holidays – Tom

  • Tom Flynn December 19, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Bryan – Agree with the above – well said. On a related note, I feel that some of the ‘click bait’ at it’s termed and appears on many websites along with news stories must be diminishing our humanity in some small way – it’s reactive, fosters impulsivity, and typically involves a topic no one is better off for having researched (‘you’ll be shocked by…fill in the blank).

    Just a minor sidebar there, but consciousness of the volume of minor things that diminish our collective humanity, as well as the big things, is helpful.

    Again, nice article & Happy Holidays – Tom

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