Benjamin Gilmour, Federal
I’ve travelled to several active conflict zones in my time, and what I see right now in Australia are some of the characteristics of wars I’ve witnessed. I see anger, confrontation, division, othering and vilification. I see a black-and-white and us-and-them mentality. I see a society of distrust, of friendships torn apart.
It is clear to me that before this war escalates further, we need to shut it down. And it starts with each of us. Each of us can break the cycle of tit-for-tat, of the urge to fire back, of revenge, of the need to have the last word or the need to be right.
Because when both sides of an argument believe the other is brainwashed, there’s no winning. I’m okay with that. I’m comfortable not having to agree with you, or you with me. Everyone is a complex individual, mostly a product of environment, conditioning and education. And I know how difficult it is to make sense of things in a world where the waters of information are utterly muddied, where it’s easy to be hoodwinked, to fall down the rabbit hole into wild ideas. Or to blindly accept the official narrative without investigation.
Most of us live full, busy, stressful lives with barely any time for deep research. We are just trying to survive, to understand, in a world where it is getting more and more difficult to distinguish truth from fiction. Let’s give each other a break. Let’s have some empathy, no matter how brainwashed you think the other is.
As a medic what I’ve learnt about human survival in times of crisis is that in these moments we desperately need each other. Yet right now I observe us becoming socially weaker because of a tragic empathy deficit. If you feel it’s important to convince the other, be respectful in your quest. Let’s tone down the arrogance, get off our high horses and find common ground, even if that is discussing a separate topic to the crisis we are in. Let’s talk about art, music, poetry. Let’s dance. Let’s appreciate nature together. These are not distractions. These are essential to the health of the organism that is society. It is essential to our wellbeing and very survival. Find something we mutually appreciate and can talk about that feeds our love for each other. Because there’s a war going on, not in some distant land, but right here, right now. Let’s all do our part for peace.