“Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? ... A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress toward more pain. The old civilizations claimed they were founded on love and justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy — everything.”
Those words were written in 1949 in the wake of World War II by an author who could see the trajectory of a bleak future unfurling in as little as a few decades.
Turns out it took 68 years, not 35, but we’ve made it to the brink of “1984” nonetheless.
Everywhere we turn these days, it seems, the truth dies, intelligence and education are considered a weakness, facts are ridiculed, rage and anger rule the day.
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Whether it’s at a White House press conference or in the fast lane on the freeway, patience, respect, courtesy and kindness are, for many people, relics of a bygone era.
So it is that we watched this week as the hordes on social media rewrote a simple, uplifting event into an opportunity to spew hate and ignorance when Big Sky Cafe and other restaurants in San Luis Obispo closed their doors in solidarity with “A Day Without Immigrants.”
On The Tribune’s Facebook post, many, many people vowed never to eat at Big Sky Cafe again after owner Greg Holt supported the action of a staff made up of 70 percent immigrants.
Many people were unable to understand that this nationwide demonstration merely aims to recognize how much we depend on all the good people who contribute to our society but didn’t have the good fortune of being born here.
Many people, it seems, equate any mention of “immigrant” with “illegal” and “undocumented.” Therefore, any action to support them is a grave misdeed worthy of a lifetime boycott.
Here is a small sample of their thinking, in their own words:
▪ “There would be no reason to have a walkout to support legal immigrants. That would be real stupid. So if they walk out, it is because they support criminals. Both illegal aliens and those that are hiring them.”
▪ “It’s hard to go through such a cleanse, but it needs to be done. We have laws and rules for a reason and if we didn’t then it wouldn’t be a place of such greatness and freedom and safety. … I support Trump and he will bring back this country. … We have been spinning into chaos and finally we are in good hands!”
▪ “Anyone joining this bs protest should loose their government assistance. Get fired if they have jobs, get ran over if they block roads.”
▪ “How misleading can this hatred story be!! Mr Trump supports all immigrants to this country, as long as they enter legally!!! And they have good intentions not to kill us!! Wake up and stop with this false narrative B’S!!”
▪ “These f--king people will make up anything to get out of work!!!! I guess ICE should start doing sweeps of the protesters!!! Y’all are just putting a target on their back???? FOOLS.”
▪ “How politically correct. I will support several months of not eating at your sweatshop.”
▪ “Thats good to know which restaurants I’ll never eat at screw them and its not immigrant day its mexican ditch day thats all it is simply ridiculous.”
Some of these comments are sad. Some are shameful. Some are downright terrifying. That one about being due for a “cleanse”? Unbelievable.
So I would like to ask this group: What compels you to feel this way? Why are you so filled with rage at people whose lives, in most cases, do not affect you, and if they do, it would only be in positive ways, such as picking and preparing your food.
It does indeed seem that as we refine ourselves, we are growing more merciless.
On Thursday at the White House, President Donald Trump held court over the media for a full 77 minutes, stabbing out insults like a shiv in between pathological boasts about his various greatness and fantastic fairy-tale telling of a level that would make George Orwell himself blush.
Among his outlandish statements, Trump said he won the Electoral College by the greatest margin since Ronald Reagan (untrue) and that his administration is “running like a fine-tuned machine” (really?).
Little did we know that Orwell was so much more prescient than even he could have imagined when he wrote, “Ignorance is strength.”
All of this leads me to look back at that opening quotation: “What kind of world we are creating?”
If I could speak to the president directly, I would make one modest request: Please treat people with respect. Stop the cycle of trampling and being trampled upon. You are in a position to accomplish great things, but only if you trickle down kindness and generosity over anger and ridicule.
As for us little people, from one human being to another, I’m begging you to try in whatever way you can to reverse this tide in how we deal with each other.
Have a little faith in our better nature. Choose optimism over pessimism. And before you lash out, especially online, stop and take a breath.
If we don’t start making progress, everything else we shall destroy — everything.