A misanthrope’s guide to saving the world.

Should you be taking spiritual advice from a misanthrope? What the hell are people like me trying to save the world for anyway? Don’t we think that people basically suck and secretly hope that someone pushes the button, the world goes boom and we can evaporate with “I told you so” lingering on our smug, whiskey-tainted[1] lips?

Think of us like rescue dogs… we might growl and bare our fangs, occasionally frighten your kids and we’re never going to be in a cute family photo but if you can win our trust, you’re doing something right. And if a misanthrope thinks there’s something worth saving, there probably is. It’s not like we’re prone to flights of romantic fantasy.

Anyway, if Mark Zuckerberg can write an essay about how he’s going to save the world with Facebook then, fuck it, everyone should be prepared to throw their hat in the ring. At least you know I’m not trying to sell you anything.

Really, the question isn’t “How can I save the world?” as, if you’re reading this, chances are you’re probably already doing your bit. Let’s face it; this is a pretty selective readership.

The more pertinent question is, “How can I encourage other people to save the world?” That question seems especially pertinent if, like me, you live in a bubble of like-minded folk who are all equally concerned about the way that the world seems to be going.

All I’ve come up with so far is that, at the fragile, iridescent edges of your bubble, there are those who can reach outside, reach into others’ bubbles. And so on. The better you do with your monkey sphere, the better your monkeys will fare on the outside.

So, monkeys within a critical radius, what can we do?

Try harder. Try to walk in the shoes of the people that we so easily offer contemptuous dismissal. Take it from an intellectually arrogant, judgemental dickhead: we’re never going to win over the people who are voting for the politics of fear with hectoring, high-horses and high-minded rhetoric. The liberal elite didn’t listen to the electorate in the UK’s EU referendum or in the US elections. You can’t win a debate without genuinely listening to your opponent’s argument – especially if they already think you’re a dick. Trust me on this – almost everyone thinks I’m a dick.

Check your… well, everything. Privilege, facts, friends, ethics… In short, think before you open your fat mouth. Or, more pertinently, post or share. Everything that we put out there that can be justifiably ridiculed weakens our stance. Stay credible or stay quiet.

Believe. A wise friend posted this wonderful article a while ago. It took me a while to really get my head around it. She’s right. We have lost something in our lack of belief. We don’t need gods or creeds or lists of rules. We need to have put enough effort into our own thinking that we can truly believe in ourselves, instead of parroting something that we’ve heard because we can’t be bothered to put the work in. We need to be prepared to admit ignorance, to ask questions, to do the hard yards and know our own minds. Take a few minutes and listen to a vox pop on the radio some time, or look at the comments section on a debate about immigration. Almost every time you see an argument that makes you think “bigotry”, you’ll see ill-matched phrases lifted from half-remembered arguments. Don’t be that guy. Know what you’re talking about.

Do something. Seriously… some time ago I posted “Spare half an hour to write to your MP or spare me your opinion.” I stand by that. If you’re not a member of a political party – or else forming your own or an active member of a protest group – then you’re just an Internet dilettante. You don’t have to go hair shirt – I could do a lot more – but there’s no true belief without action. If you can’t even be bothered to sign a few petitions, to write to your political representative, then why should anyone care if you’re not tickled pink with the status quo? Truly, if you’re not part of the solution…

Be nice. Yeah, I know. I’m hardly one to talk. Ask anyone who’s known me for a long time though and, I hope, they’ll tell you I’ve come a long way. But every day you have multiple chances to make the world a better, kinder place. If you don’t, why should anyone else.

Maybe I’m not the misanthrope that I used to be. Maybe misanthropy has made me the man I am today. I’d like to think that we can still save the world. If we can’t, then you’re welcome round my place when it all finally goes tits-up. Bring a guitar and a bottle of Jamesons.

Unlimited love.

x

[1] Maybe that’s just me…

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