Originally published in AllSidesDebilyn Molineaux, AllSides
We’ve all done it. We see or hear something (like a news story or meme/tweet) and are outraged — we MUST respond. We. Can. Not. Let. It. Go. Unchallenged.
Besides, we know we are smarter than whoever is offending us, right? (Cue music of self-righteousness.)
Whew. My blood pressure goes up just thinking about it! I’m not often caught up in outrage these days, but when I am, it may take me days to calm down again. And there is so much to be outraged about — from dehumanization to nasty rhetoric to all manner of injustice. It feels more dramatic and heightened than ever before.
So I’m curious — what would happen if we looked a little deeper, both into ourselves and into our society? Outrage isn’t part of who I want to be. What about you?
Our rush to judgment is biological. Our survival as early humans was not certain. Our judgement served us — protecting lives, families and communities. Our quick judgement was required. Is our personal and individual survival still at stake on social media? In our daily lives? Sometimes. Most often not.
Many people are living on the social or financial edge. So when we flood our brains with images via social media and the news, we react from a place of survival. As a result, our country experiences a collective hair trigger, both metaphorically and literally. Our fear means we will shoot to kill (with guns or with words) instead of pausing to check our judgement for possible errors. Pausing could literally save lives.
We seem to have forgotten our superpower of curiosity.
Curiosity is the mindset we use to:
1. Explore and have adventures
2. Discover new things
3. Create beauty
4. Experience wonder and awe
5. Question what we see
Wouldn’t our lives be better if we employed more curiosity? Wouldn’t our country be better? I think so. It’s my daily aspiration and choice. What is yours?
What we do next will matter a lot. We can pull the trigger and respond with outrage. Or, we can hit “pause” and engage our curiosity to research if our anger is justified. Most often, it is not. Most of what we hear or see has an aspect of truth, but is far from the whole Truth. Most often, facts are selected and an interpretation is presented to provoke a fearful response in us. As a people, fear makes us more susceptible to manipulation.
The good news is we have the superpower of curiosity within us. And with practice, our ability to use it gets stronger. It’s easy! Once the “fear button” is pushed, stop and ask:
1. Why should I be afraid right now?
2. Who wants me to be afraid and what do they get out of it?
3. What is the rest of the story?
4. What are the facts and what is the interpretation of the facts?
5. What can I do about this that would break the spell of fear for myself and others?
6. How can I contribute in a positive way today?
7. What is the best use of my time?
And here’s the real secret to curiosity. Even if we decide we should be afraid, there’s still time to use our judgement and act. But the same cannot be said of judging first and being curious second. Curiosity provides more options for our future. Use your superpower!
Rush to curiosity. Judge later.