Torches and Pitchforks

Sunday, May 01, 2011

For the sake of not catching my readers off-guard by intentionally unfunny posts, I will now try to limit these kinds of articles during Serious Sundays and government holidays. Special announcements are, of course, exempted, as with anything related to Vina Morales. That shit's gotta stay real-time, you know what I'm saying? I don't. Anyway, on with the post.

I love reading about history. More specifically, I love reading about wars. War an interesting phenomenon that teaches very strong lessons at a very high cost to those involved. Ask any war veteran still alive today. For some reason though, that lesson is almost always too quickly forgotten. It's like one moment, people are saying "This should never happen to future generations." and the next moment, Germany is trying to strangle France again.

You'd think the reason why this happens is because the veterans of the war die off. Try World war 2. It started a mere 20 years after the "Great War" that many saw as the war to end all wars. I know, I know, it's the national grudge. But try getting an arm blown off. Or the arm of your best friend. Or all of your friends. That ought to change your perspective on a lot of things, and asked in hindsight if you'd think that's a price worth paying for "getting back at them frogs", everybody would say "hell no".

You'd think if that's the reason, wars wouldn't last long. Not years. Not even weeks. It'd be like a brawl in a party. Somebody starts bleeding, everybody stops the fight. Whatever the reason was is suddenly no longer worth it. That's not how wars happen.

Do you know how wars are sustained for very long periods of time? It's because people have poor memories. At the start, people have their reasons. Then because of the fighting the reasons are overtaken by something more personal. A friend gets killed. A family becomes collateral damage. Suddenly it's no longer about the reason. It's about getting back at the enemy.

And this is not just limited to wars.

Sometimes, we become angry at something for so long, we tend to forget why we were angry in the first place. Sometimes, people around us have been angry for so long that we become just as angry, without ever remembering what has gotten us so riled up in the first place.

That's called mob mentality - the worst kind of intellectual collective that sacrifices individual logic with group thinking. "Maybe" and "What ifs" are replaced with torches and pitchforks. Questions are replaced by demands. Thinking is replaced with threats.

I remember in one of the companies I've worked for before, people became so angry at the management, even issues that were bigger than the management were somehow transformed into points against "the enemy". While there were mostly valid points, the possibility of a more civil negotiation went out the window. And the situation simply spiraled out of control, where everybody wound up hurt, and worse, even more bitter.

See, collective anger doesn't just affect your thinking. It affects your very personality. You can't feel a certain emotion for so long and not have it leave a trace in your character. You become an anger-driven person and make you even more susceptible to similar kinds of herding.

The only answer is you. You have to stop. To stop, you have to know if you have an issue. You will know you're already sucked in by the mob when you just can't find a strong, first-hand reason why you feel strongly against something, even though, if you think hard, you know there are alternative ways to resolve the problem other than through force by numbers.

Take a step back. Think and reflect on what has happened thus far. The moment you realize there's more to the issue than just what "everybody" thinks, that's the moment you start becoming an individual again.

And as an individual, that's the only time you can really make a right difference.


Leo said...

reading your posts makes me want to blog again. I've lost interest in blogging recently because I thought no one will really give a crap about what I write, and I see no incentive in it (as for the purpose of "venting out" stuff, I can do it in video games... so..) - and I don't want to be that person who forces other people to read my stuff and "drop a comment on it".

on-topic: I like history too (and like you, I like the "wars" part). My interest in war history had alot to do with my enthusiasm in video games - playing Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, Civilization, Rome: Total War (my laptop can't accomodate Empire and Shogun 2 :( )

reading this reminds me of that song played in the movie Rush Hour (Edwin Starr's "War") - "what is it good for? absolutely nothing! hunhhh! good God y'all!"


Many years from now you're going to forget how you thought when you were younger. By keeping a blog, you're preserving bits of you that can't be captured in pictures. If you can't blog because nobody's reading, blog because one day you will.

Leo said...

good point, I'll keep that in mind.


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