The first few weeks of the new year have been overshadowed for many by the change in tides in American politics. For those of us in the UK, the last six months have carried much the same feeling following Brexit. One of polarity.
Whichever side you are on, the two distinct camps have little overlap. Everyone feels misunderstood, and trust between communities has been replaced by fear. Our filters have become stronger. They may be difficult to perceive as we’re generally surrounded by like minded people, but they take shape in our beliefs, hopes and visions for the future. The echo chamber has shone some light on this already recently, with much blame given to media and social networks, but what about our own role in this? How do we really shed light on our own blind spots?
What we are experiencing is a mirror. What we are putting out to the world as a collective is glaring back in our faces. The more polarised we become, the harder it becomes to ignore our own behaviour.
What is it about Trump we don’t like? Or those people that don’t share our views? Their qualities have always existed in our culture, it’s only that we can’t ignore them now, as they have began to dominate.
Until now we have stood back and relinquished responsibility for them, and now they are larger we are trying to do the same. It’s easy to label them right and wrong, but what if we need these experiences in order to understand ourselves better. What if by rejecting them, we are only looking at part of our true nature as humans?
What the echo chamber has the capacity to teach us is that judgement in itself makes us as guilty as those we are judging, that by expressing hate and fear on an individual level, it allows it to flourish in the collective.
In the story of Snow White, the evil queen doesn’t want to hear when the mirror tells her she is not the fairest of them all. But the mirror does not lie. So we have a choice. We can demonise Snow White as she did, we can attempt to destroy those with other views, but we will only destroy ourselves. Only when we’re ready to look at our own dark sides, may things begin to change.
Tolerance is seen as a weakness in modern day society, when in fact it is a power, for only with it can we change our own filters, and allow others to do the same.
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious — CARL JUNG