10 Dec 2013


The name of this blog is “Do we already have the solutions” for a reason.  My earlier posts on Identity and their link to values have shown that the solutions often lie in being able to removing barriers to reveal what we already know. Culture, identity and personal ego and indoctrination issues often lead do being emotionally aligned and  motivated to draw a line in the sand and choosing sides.  Nowhere is this more apparent than with getting behind a cause.

The vast majority of causes are non-issues.  The way society deals with the issues is the real problem, often creating two opposing sides defending their particular positions and my personal experience has shown me that many of us are indiscriminately being PRO or ANTI a particular issue.

This makes little sense of course, because the elements at play are never simple and broad decision of personal PRO or ANTI policy should ever be applied without due consideration of the context.  As obvious as this sounds, is very uncommon to encounter either side investigating the merits of the opposing camp, or taking the time to understand the application of their cause in each scenario.  This has the fascinating effect of producing loyalties and hostilities along with all sorts of ridiculous barriers to solutions that are so often right in front of us.

For example:

Recently the issue of trophy hunting has exposed how much emotion your average armchair activist is prepared to invest to stop a particular trophy hunter, Melissa Bachman, from plying her nasty trade.  Public opinion has likely achieved part of its goal, leaving conservationists frustrated that another hollow victory based on sentiment has achieved nothing for Lion Conservation.  The conservationist approach was for a long time perceived as PRO trophy hunting in their efforts to highlight the real issues, the issues that would achieve real success, were regarded with suspicion and prejudice. See here: http://www.toomuchtoomany.co.za/blog/2013/11/15/lions-in-the-cross-hairs

The issue of fracking has become so sentimentally polarizing, that in some cases where fracking is potentially the least environmentally impacting way to meet energy demands, there is serious talk of shelving the idea, or not even getting data on it, in favor of more harmful ways of producing power IN THOSE PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES.  It also fails to address the issue that ever growing needs for power come from our failure to manage or population, lifestyle or impact on the environment. See here: http://www.toomuchtoomany.co.za/blog/2013/12/5/we-cant-treasure-only-the-karoo and here: http://www.toomuchtoomany.co.za/blog/2013/5/6/when-should-we-start-fracking-in-the-karoo IT’s not clear what the facts on this issue are yet, but it quite clear that there is a public desire to move forward without due consideration of the facts due to sentimental attachment to a cause.

The vaccination issue is a prime example where issues are again being confused.  There is so much evidence for vaccinations saving lives and doing much good for society, but because there have been instances in the past where some bad vaccines were discovered, or where unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies and their political lobbyists have been found pushing legislation in cases where untested or unnecessary vaccines where to be made compulsory, some have turned against ALL VACCINATIONS.  For the same reason many in the PRO camp have taken to defending all instances of vaccination indiscriminately.  It’s completely unnecessary and avoidable, but until we learn to weed out the separate issues we will never focus on the real problems. Here is a potted and superficial look at the issue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccine_controversies

The danger of all of this sentimentality is that it affects political will to make real change, politicians run for office based on these emotive issues often more than the real issues of the day, and often their policy is shaped by taking stands on these issues designed to resound with one group or the other in order to win over a voting section of the population tied into the issue.
Politics is not so much sick because of politicians, it is sick because politicians have to get elected, and we demand they take a stand on these matters to get our allegiance and  satisfy our agendas over finding solutions for the ails of society.

I call indiscriminate activism “slactivism”, because of the poor fact checking as well as the lack of interest shown in researching and understanding an issue one claims to feels so passionately about. Sometimes it is harmless; other times when there are consequences it is irresponsible and hypocritical.
www.snopes.com regularly cites cases where sudden public reaction and hostility spreads misinformation and lies, often harming innocent people, by outraged armchair activists who couldn’t be bothered to check their facts, spreading vitriolic hate parading as an internet meme.

It’s often been cited to me that slactivism can achieve results because of the attention drawn to the issue, but attention drawn to incorrect issues can often harm a cause or provide only a sense of self satisfaction those seeking to exploit the issue in order to demonstrate their righteous moral indignation to those listening.  I cannot reconcile it with the work done by those responsible activists spending their own time and resources campaigning for real change, it just does not ring true.
I will concede that if slactivism bring the issues out, and those who better understand the issues challenge the material with intention to show better understanding, then some progress can be made, but it cannot work unless the facts are corrected sensibly and politely which places personal responsibility on all of use to question and understand with open minds, and not to argue to defend our position at all costs.  The internet and social media has given everyone a platform, I think it’s time to stop going around high-fiving and siding with each other and instead learn the art of the polite disagreement and healthy debate.  We learn more about each other in respectful disagreement that we do in awkward comprise.