Thursday, October 05, 2017

Why we need to talk about motive, and encourage others to do so...

No Motive, No Matter?  Leave it to the Experts?

When bad things happen to good people we're dumbfounded.  We literally "find" ourselves "dumb" in what feels like an alien and unpleasant world. How could this happen?  Most of us make throwaway comments without thinking, and go on with our lives. But if gut-wrenching tragedies don't yank us out of business-as-usual or social-media-as-usual, what will?  What will get us to have serious conversations about the state of humanity in the world today?

Criminal acts and mass shooting in particular are warning signs that remind us of overall trends stewing and brewing in our communities.  Like extreme hurricanes, we need to pay attention to these extremes so that we can adapt, respond to them.  In nature, organisms are rewarded for the ability to perceive threats, understand them and respond to them.  But it seems human nature, in our wisdom, think it better to not think at all.  The screengrab above is but one example of this effort to encourage people to be sheep: please don't think about this, leave it to the experts!

As a student of law and a student on high profile cases, I've seen just the sort of damage that happens when societies, witnesses, victims and even judges and juries are caught napping.  Because in the real world, make no mistake, somebody profits from your failure to think for yourself.  Someone gets away with something because you wouldn't go further than judging a book by its cover.

PR companies in particular, profit from this cognitive laziness.  They press buttons and guide their prey - whole herds at a time - along paths of least emotional resistance.  Usually sentiment.  There is a lot of science and logic in the world, but just as much tribalism and sentiment.  Thinking is hard.  Thinking is not escapism, it means we have to confront the world and ourselves.  Most of us, most of the time, don't want to.  But we should.  For the simple reason that most of us are caught up in silly and shallow distraction, when its necessary, when seminal tragedies occur, we need to rouse ourselves and pay attention. Let me say that again: when important disasters befall us or our communities we need to wake the fuck up, get the fuck up, and examine our lives.  We need to pay attention. We need to tell stories about real events and real people surrounding us, and make up our minds what we think about them.  We need to think and reason, otherwise we are mere dullards mindlessly chewing the cud in fairytale fields, no good to the world, and no good to one another.

Dr. Glass is correct in saying this thin slicing habit of casting our ideas into a hat at the drop of a hat isn't helpful.  But she's wrong so say we should stop. It doesn't incite hate if what it does is digs beneath the veneer.  That sort of thinking inspires connection and acknowledgement. That sort of confronting of what we don't know is the opposite of escape, it's our homecoming. We should start thinking.  I have, and over the course of several true crime cases, very high profile in which there were dozens of investigators, cops and lawyers, I was still able to advance the narrative into new areas and new discoveries simply by having the stamina to pay attention and think about how the pieces fit [or didn't fit] together.  It has value!  Because ultimately it decides what our world is made of, what we are made of and how it needs to be rearranged so that it fits.  If we can't pay attention to someone else, how can we properly attend to ourselves?  And if we can't listen to our own thoughts, if we can't abide logic, how can we understand anyone else?

I want to encourage you to think for yourselves too.  This shooting in Las Vegas, any crime in fact, is an opportunity to not only confront a stranger's motives, but your own too.  You're part of the world, you're human race, aren't you?

2 comments:

brighton said...

I want to discuss gun control and why these massacres happen. I am confused and need clarity. I am able to apply critical thinking skills to much needed debates. So thank you Nick for bringing your experience, thoughts and honesty to the world of fake news and in many instances a lack of respect for human life.

Nick van der Leek said...

What's your feeling about guns?