A terrible thing happened in Woolwich yesterday. Most of you reading this already know what I mean, but if not, the tools are there on the internet for you to find out.
The response on social media was predictable but no less alarming. Again, you probably know what I’m talking about so I won’t go into detail.
And there was an additional response; a swathe of posts decrying the racism, xenophobia and islamophobia that ensued, including links to pages which had Twitter and Facebook screenshots all over them like a festering sore, while we read the vitriol that we had voluntarily sought out by clicking on the link, becoming ever more outraged with every senseless proclamation.
Negativity is easy. I see it as like falling into a pit; letting gravity do its work, you fall in, with nothing but the pit and negative people in sight, wallowing in the outrage. I see it all over – look at these AWFUL wedding photographers, and these HILARIOUS poor people at Wal-Mart. Yes, it might raise a smile, but the overriding feeling is one of negativity, almost celebrating the fact that we are not one of these people. Yet how do we know that these photographers are not happy, making a living doing something they enjoy, regardless of what we think of the results? Or that the people in the aisles in Wal-Mart are at ease with themselves enough that they feel the can go out shopping in those ill-fitting clothes without worrying about being judged?
Positivity is different. It takes an effort, rather like climbing a mountain. Surrounded by the all-pervading gravity of negativity, it’s a constant uphill fight until you finally reach a peak. The view from the top of the mountain is amazing – you can see so much more and it looks beautiful from up there. Those poor people you see below you in their pit of negativity have no idea what you can see. There is so much that’s great in the world, you just have to find the right vantage point from which to observe it.
This is not to say we shouldn’t help where we can. LGBT people and women are still persecuted in so many countries still, and denied the same rights afforded to the rest of us in even more. People are employed on a pittance to work in factories that are structurally unsafe, resulting in the kind of tragedy we saw in Bangladesh recently. I’m not saying we should ignore these issues.
But I still think it’s important to celebrate what’s great about this world. Don’t give the racists the oxygen of social media infamy that they crave, don’t report every last action of the Westboro Baptist Church as though it were headline news rather than the misguided actions of a tiny minority. Positivity brings hope, and a belief that things can change for the better – a belief that can be channelled into more action to improve the lot of those who have inadvertently fallen into the pits dug by the negativity of others.