“The position being taken is not to be mistaken for attempted education or righteous accusation, only a description just an observation of the pitiful condition of our degeneration”
Operation Ivy, “Room Without A Window”
When I first came to SparkLife, things were good. Everyone got along and besides the occasional leggings article, the comment threads never got violent. Today, we seem to be immersed in a great civil war. Flame wars have been ignited throughout all SparkLife, highlighting the political and religious tensions of our time and we have reached a point where people have become so offended and disenfranchised that they are leaving our community. This is wrong. We have allowed ourselves to be immersed in the petty ideological struggles of the world around us and we are damaging our relationships with each other. It’s only what we’ve been taught though, stick and stones, right? True, but words cut more than sticks and stones any day because sticks and stones can only cut your body; words damage your spirit. And here all we can use is words, and we have used those words in ways that have hurt others. We must stop.
Everyone has beliefs, yes. But you know what? No two people in the entire world have the exact same beliefs as each other. Sure, many may share basic tenets with each other, but the specifics make us who we are. Each of us is the center of our own worlds. Our experiences, the things we have been taught, the mistakes we have made, all contribute to our system of beliefs. And we are going to disagree with other people’s beliefs. This is a given and has led to so much conflict throughout the course of human history, so much conflict here in the past months. But the thing is that not a single one of these beliefs is wrong. The beliefs that you hold mean something to you, the beliefs that others hold mean something to them. Imagine a world where everyone believed the exact same thing. Would there be any point to even living in such a world, a world where nothing changes, a world where everyone looked, talked, read, watched, and worked in the exact same way? That kind of world is not even ideologically feasible. Our beliefs are what make us us; separate a person from their beliefs and they lose their personality. And at times, our beliefs will lead us to things we will later regret, but at other times our beliefs will lead us to make some of the greatest decisions of our lives. Our work is not to go along with everything we hear, our work is to listen and cooperate with others, regardless of what they may believe. Funnily enough, one of the best illustrations of this is the theme song to an animated children’s show that many of us stopped watching a long time ago:
“Every day when you’re walking down the street
Everybody that you meet
Has an original point of view.
And I say hey (hey) what a wonderful kind of day
If we can learn to work and play
And get along with each other.
You’ve got to listen to your heart,
Listen to the beat, listen to the rhythm,
The rhythm of the street,
Open up your eyes, open up your ears,
Get together and make it better
By working together.”
Going back to the question that was posed in the two posts that reignited a philosophical war, it’s not about intolerance or tolerance, it’s about respect. You are never going to fully agree with anybody. At times you will disagree with your friends, your family, and nothing is going to change that. We are by nature, an opinionated species. We have to tell others what we believe, but the key is not in forcing them to believe it or arguing that their belief is wrong, the key is in saying what you have to say and respecting what they have to say. You disagree with your friends, but at the end of the day, you’re still friends. You see, here’s the secret, we are all of us human. Not a single one of us is any better or any worse than the rest of us. The beliefs we hold are no truer or falser than the beliefs anyone else holds. In fact, there is no such thing as truth. All truth is subjective; you decide what is true and what is not, and no one else should have any say in that matter. You create your world. Let others create their own. SparkNotes was not wrong in posting opinion pieces and you are not wrong for having your say on the issue. In the end, all that it’s about is the voicing of opinions and the acceptance that there are other ways to believe and no one holds a monopoly on the truth.
In a way, this all started with the religion war. Feelings got hurt, things got out of hand, and the conflict hasn’t truly stopped since then. But, see, at the basis of every single religion, be it Abrahamic, Philosophical, Pagan, Humanist, Agnostic, or even Atheist, is one simple tenet: Love. Whether it be love for a divine power, love for the world around you, love for the humanity within us all, or a combination of all these and more, love is the most important rule. And this doesn’t mean love in an amorous way, although it can. At its most base, love is seeing everyone around you as equals and love is respecting that they are not be the same person that you are. We need to return to this type of love. See, hatred solves nothing, but love, even though it might not solve anything, doesn’t make it any worse. I could list out all the possible beliefs anyone could have and preface it with love, but when it comes down to it, it’s about loving your fellow human beings. Love them despite their differences, love them through their differences, love them for their differences. The more we strive toward a society defined by love, the more likely we are to be able to build a harmonious world, not completely peaceful, because peace is largely impossible in a world such as we live, but one where we can look at our fellow human beings and say “Hey, I may not believe everything you have to say, I may not even believe anything you have to say, but I will still love you anyway.”
Go forward in this. Defend your beliefs, but respect that others may have different ones and neither of you has to agree on it. Love your fellow Sparkler. Let us no longer alienate our own. And love your fellow human beings. And to those of you who may not agree with all that I say, know that I shall still love you, as a Sparkler, as a human being, regardless.
Originally published on March 21, 2013.