It's time to cancel "Cancel Culture".
I know, it was fun for a while, to empower ourselves against the rich and famous by spreading disdain for their words and actions, boycotting all their future work. It made us feel better about our own status in life.
I'm all for banding together in the name of justice and awareness. But when we ignore the humanity of public figures and renowned artists, we lose track of the humanity in ourselves. We don't want to be seen as numbers, or advertising profiles, or statistics. We want to be seen as human beings, and that means extending the same treatment outward.
I think it's utterly possible to release our grip on hate. Hate is not helping us come together with our common goals. Hate swiftly divides and conquers. No one wants hate on their side--hate becomes destructive and regrettable all too quickly. Hate is just another way we ignore our own pain and trauma.
What if this was the dawn of Compassion Culture? What if, instead of jumping to popular conclusion, we listened to every piece of information with a little empathy, and we acknowledged that we couldn't possibly know all the details...?
Strong opinions often feel good to stick to. I remember saying a lot of things in my college years just because they sounded badass to say. "Olives are stupid!" "We can't be friends if you like country music!" "All religion is bad!" I touted my strong opinions until they exhausted me. And none of them were even remotely true. Strong opinions aren't necessarily bad until you let them define you. When you define yourself by your long held opinions, you stop listening to all the other options out there... including the love-centered ones that make you happier, and a better person.
We don't need to make change as hard as we do.
JK Rowling has been in the news for some controversial "transphobic" tweets. When I first found out about it, through one of my favorite Youtubers, the question of whether Rowling was actually transphobic went unmentioned. The conversation was purely about whether her art could be separated from her tweets, or if everything she ever made should be boycotted.
I read Rowling's blog on the whole debacle, and although I'm not sure I fully support her opinion and actions, I don't think she, or anyone, deserves the kind of online bullying and hate speech she received, while simply trying to educate herself on trans ally-ship and the transgender experience (mostly for research for a new book). She meant to screen shot a transphobic tweet, and accidentally 'liked' it. As a victim of domestic abuse, she meant to use her platform and influence to protect all women, especially transgender women and transgender men who have statistically high rates of harassment, violence, and death. She walked through all the facets of her choices in her blog and asked for no sympathy, just an open ear to the complexities of trans-related political policy, which could inevitably lead to more abuse, not less.
Again I wasn't sure if I fully agreed, but I certainly appreciated her best intentions, and how refreshing to read discourse that didn't ram the conclusion down my throat, but rather let me decide for myself. In my opinion, JK Rowling is probably not the right person to speak on the subject of the trans experience or "what is the best transgender policy", regarding restrooms, etc. But I don't think anyone should be receiving death threats and hate spew just for doing research and having an opinion.
When we automatically "cancel" every public figure for every perceived misstep, we take away their right to change and grow and do better, and in so doing we take away our own rights to change, and grow, and do better. We have to leave room for people to fail. Insulting, threatening and boycotting people we don't personally know to inflate our own egos and keep hate in the ecosystem... is dehumanizing.
That's where Compassion Culture comes in. We take in every tweet, and news article, and conversation with a little more compassion. We look for the loving intent behind the choices we don't yet understand. We skip the shaming component (yup, it's optional!) and move straight to "how do we make this better?" Instead of wasting 10-100 minutes of trashing everything we hate, we prop up what we love. We leave our heavy, burdensome judgments by the wayside and we push through our initial anger, to calm, focused energy for the long road to justice and change.
It seems fun in the moment to hate Vanessa Hudgens or Kanye West or Justin Bieber for making an ass of themselves in public, but they're humans too. It seems efficient to talk all day about idiot politicians--people clearly raised with so little compassion and genuine love (who knows what kind of sad existence they truly lead), but our days could be better spent, making calls to congress to enact the changes we want to see, supporting the people and platforms we care about, and taking time for ourselves. Hate tends to sit, clenched in our bodies long after the comments are said. Let it go.
Lead with compassion. Help me foster the illumination and growth of our public figures, our family members, and our selves. It only takes a little empathy to get the ball rolling. It's probably easier than you even realize.