Deathly Differences

This morning I am thinking about truth.

It’s such a bendable issue, such a dangerous issue. We each live according to our very personal version of truth, but when our truth kills someone, or infringes on their sovereignty, who is to blame? Truth?

This week two young police officers were shot and then shot again (execution style) where they lay injured. Two other police officers escaped barely, by running into the surrounding bush and raising the alarm. A next door neighbour was also shot when he came to see what was occurring.

It was a routine welfare check; there was no way that the police officers could have anticipated what erupted on a quiet rural property.

There are other details, which are all over the news so I am not going to elaborate because I don’t think they are as important as the impetus behind the murders.

The impetus was truth. Or at least the murderers (three) version of it. The world is enmeshed in conspiracy theory. Millions of humans are stuck in dark corners in their own minds.

We operate according to our personal truth. Our version. Our beliefs. We seek reinforcement for those beliefs, we bond with those that mirror our ideologies and in this time of Uber connection to everything and everyone – every fetish and desire and belief finds a like minded tribe.

It’s terrifying how utterly deluded some people can become.

I know a guy that is otherwise pretty normal who once embroiled me in a conversation regarding Covid conspiracy theory; the things he said, the places his mind went and tried to drag mine were quite amazing. Luckily, I have very firm ground on which I stand and in the end, (when I could get a works in) I replied in the most diplomatic way I could

“I don’t believe any of this” I said. I didn’t offer counter facts or argument. I stated that his facts did not align with my beliefs. Oddly, that was enough.

It was awkward and then it was fine. He knew where I stood, I knew where he did. End of discussion. Now and then when I see him, he still sometimes tries to convince me of the latest conclusions that some website or other has drawn. I shake my head and smile. Then he recalls, I am not capable of being enlightened to the dark currents that apparently sweep beneath our society.

I’m aware of dark currents but mostly that they are perpetuated by so called truth seekers that are primarily fed lies by mayhem peddlers who emotionally feed on drama and disorder.

I am dismissive, light and let people think what they want to think. That is, after all, one of our last great freedoms – to think as we wish.

But when that thinking turns into violent action against innocent people who are going about their work in this world, then I have to wonder if it is okay to think whatever we want, or is it incumbent upon ordinary society to call people out on their crap.

During the Covid years I was scanning groceries at Woolies when a particularly lively roaming shop assistant began telling me all about how her son had put her onto a website with all sorts of information that refuted what the government was telling us. She prattled on while I sped up scanning my groceries. Finally, unable to bear it any longer I said “I’m sorry, I don’t believe any of this and I know you do, that’s your business but I’m just trying to buy some groceries here”

Her face dropped, the glow in her eyes turned hard and her mouth tightened. She walked over to “assist” someone else. I felt sad for her but also bullied and harrassed by her passionate opinions, opinions she was trying to force on me.

Her theories gave her power. She was fully charged with indignation and wrath. This is why people love the dark lure of conspiracy and so called knowledge. It empowers them. They like to pit themselves against the government that they feel is the enemy or trying to control them.

They are rebels. We are sheep. They are free, we are weak and easily deceived. They, them, us, we. It’s incredibly divisive and damaging to society as a whole.

I get defensive and annoyed when attacked with so called truth, but so do the misinformed who would label me misinformed, and then we retreat to our separate camps and hurl rocks at each other. Worse is yet to come as “evidence” for all sorts of things can be faked and deep faked by AI and then passed around the internet and labelled truth.

We will become lost and drown if we don’t hold onto the one thing that can always be relied upon. Our shared humanity. People really are hard to hate up close. This is not something that will be solved by government. It is going to be solved by communities, conversations, inclusiveness.

Hate and conspiracy thrive in the dark and disconnected places. They thrive on being set apart and laughed at.

After the events of the week and the details that have emerged on just how alienated and weird the thinking of these murderers had become, I did briefly consider if citizens have a duty to report strange and radical thinking to someone in authority. But then I immediately realised that doing so was playing into the hands of hate.

I don’t like having awkward conversations. I don’t like arguing. And I have always subscribed to the “don’t argue with an idiot they will just drag you down and beat you with experience” point of view, but if I am in the circumstance where someone opens up the pandoras box of their “truth”, and I find it alarming, I have to treat it more seriously than I have in the past and have a conversation from my own version of truth.

“I don’t believe that” is more helpful than “you’re wrong” when faced with a person who is passionate about a differing point of view.

We are all entitled to our beliefs and it doesnt have to end in a frustrating debate or an argument to be of a contrasting opinion. I try not to isolate or ridicule anyone because I know that’s dangerous. But common sense has to be used in order for it to begin to prevail over some of the ridiculous falsehoods that are making the rounds of the web.

It’s so sad to think of the tragedy of young lives lost to other lives that were ruined and warped by falsehoods dressed as truth – who are also now lost but already were before they were snuffed out by a bullet.

What a waste. And now it’s Christmas, a time of year that celebrates the birth of another life that was cut short because a mob turned violently on the whim of “facts”.

Nothing much has changed.

My prayers and thoughts are with police and front line service men and women everywhere at this horrible juncture in time.

17 thoughts on “Deathly Differences

  1. You’ve expressed well our current predicament with what is truth. I live among deniers and believers in our latest conspiracy theories. I avoid getting into any discussions or arguments and treat everyone with kindness and respect. The powers that be that control the narratives are beyond my reach. This situation will not end well for us as a nation, the global community of nations, or as a species.

    • It’s so frustrating, Rosalienne; technology and instantaneous pseudo-connection is making it worse. I have always been of the live-and-let-live, frame of mind but now I am concerned that our tolerance is seen as apathy and weakness by those that seek to violently impress their ideology on others.

      • Our tolerance can, indeed, be seen as a weakness. But, as a non-violent individual, I believe that tolerance is an appropriate response. We have to continue raising awareness, pressing for change, and being the change needed > An adult male neighbor once approached me to ask why I spend so much time gardening. Mind you, I just garden at weekends for two to four hours depending upon the season. I explained to him how important it is for me to connect with Nature and all that I learn while working with plants. He listened respectfully. Did it change his view of plants and of our connection with Nature? I can only hope it did.

  2. The situation is similar in NZ, lots of conspiracy thoeries were/are everywhere. the easiest way to combat this is to simply turn the TV off and don’t listen to the news, and go by your instincts. Or in other words, stay grounded and trust yourself.
    It’s now becoming very apparent here that pzizer doesn’t stop you getting covid, or stop transmission of covid, and covid is now just everywhere.
    The good news is that the hysteria is disappearing, and rationality is replacing it.

    • COVID is certainly a topic of much contention and is a perfect example of where personal freedom must find a comfortable bedmate with personal responsibility and societal responsibility. I did my research and chose vaccination.

  3. Truth is a tricky thing. I think instead of being aggressive it helps to talk to people who are passionate about something you are not passionate about.

    • Hi Pooja, I believe in tolerance and diplomacy but not over indulgence. I don’t think anyone should have to listen to ideas that they find repulsive, insane or just idiocy, such as the earth is flat, the holocaust never occurred, or that the Port Arthur Massacre was a Government conspiracy to bring about the gun buy back scheme here in Australia, or any idea that promotes hatred of certain people, species or violence. I don’t think personal freedom trumps personal responsibility to society. I’m always happy to listen to someone’s perspective on almost any topic, but I certainly reserve the right to say “I don’t believe in that” and walk away. Unfortunately people who are passionate about something can become aggressive because they have a lack of emotional control. Or are so passionate about their ideology that they think others should be forced to share their belief and try to bring this about by pestering and bullying which has a counter productive effect. As you say truth is a tricky thing 😊

      • Absolutely agree. It’s not okay for people to spread ideas that promote hate, racism etc. However, like you said people can get very passionate about their ideology and I find it’s best not to argue with people like that because they’re so wrapped up in their beliefs that it often makes them irrational. Yes, truth is very tricky.

  4. I didn’t know you had these ‘american’ problems. I keep hoping and wishing that other countries are smarter than us, but I guess not. I’ve come to believe that shootings are somewhat rare in Australia. Is that not true?

    • They are very rare Jeff which is why it is such a shock I guess. And usually bush communities would be considered very safe. What has occurred is bizarre for Australia but apparently this sort of thing can happen anywhere.

  5. It makes me so sad that ‘truth’ has become somehow malleable in people’s minds and actions. When did TRUTH become subjective? People kill others (absolutely horrifying) because they believe in THEIR “truth” when I believe the simple truth of all things is to be as kind as we can to one another. I’m a Christian and more so a follower of Jesus – who I believe was the embodiment of light and truth. He was the voice for the hurting and defenceless and He urged us all to “love each other”.

    I think if we all do our best to just be kind as much as we can, our whole world could start to heal.

    I also love your answer of “I don’t believe in that” to people’s theories/ideologies – because you’re saying your truth very simply and not inviting an argument or leaving room for a person to take offence. I’m hoping you don’t mind if I use that from now on, too. It’s SO MUCH BETTER than saying “You’re wrong” or “That’s just stupid”. It allows for respect WITHOUT agreement and I really like that. Sending you lots of love from Perth, WA xx ps. If I don’t write to you sooner, Merry Christmas xx

  6. In the days of MySpace, I had a MySpace account entirely dedicated to conspiracy theories. I didn’t believe no pretend to believe any of them. I just found them fascinating. That someone’s mind concocted those. When someone says, “I can’r make this up,” I assure them they can. Now I would never promote conspiracy theories anymore. People are getting hurt by them. And I do tell people they are wrong. Doesn’t do any good but as long as they see they’re losing friends over it, I have to believe it at least phases them.

  7. I too have lamented “young lives lost to other lives that were ruined and warped by falsehoods dressed as truth”. We have a son who serves in the Qld police force, the same age as one of the murdered young constables and I am still trying to process the utter barbarity of what happened. Eventually my thoughts will work their way out into a blog post, but for now I will be giving my son an extra long hug when he comes home for Christmas. Something those other police families will not get to do. 😥

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