We need to talk

Human civilization is the result of intelligence and opposable thumbs, of course, but it is mainly due our ability to communicate and pass down information. It gives us the upper hand over every other species. Even viruses that evolve to be stronger when the human immune system wins is strongly combatted by progressive modern medicine. In more primitive times this occurrence would have curbed the human population significantly. It is only because we work together and communicate that collectively, humans are able to extensively increase the lifespan and quality of life for everyone. Human beings have connected globally to combine all efforts toward progressing humanity.

Where am I going with this? Well, it is to try to emphasize the key ingredient that led to civilization itself. To say that communication is important is just far too euphemistic and in order to progress further, our ability to communicate new ideas and learn from the past is imperative. Constant learning, adaptability and finding more efficient methods of surviving is how we progress in every aspect. Stagnation and regression results from following primitive tradition. Just because something has “always been done this way” does not insinuate the only method, the best method or the right method for that matter.

With that said I’d like to present my case for disagreeing with the concept of moral absolution. Human morality is constantly and significantly improving. In prehistoric times when natural selection was prevalent among humans, morality was of little value and had almost no definition. Survival of the fittest meant being controlled by basic animalistic instincts to stay alive and to procreate as much as possible. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. People and families formed tribes and fought over territory, food and resources to survive. Like in observed animal alpha challenging, the biggest and baddest dominated. Each group formed their own rules and laws and fought with others over whose morals were right. The people conformed to the winner’s ideologies and way of life by force. The future generation would follow suit since it was all they knew and were taught. Thus tradition, religions, ideologies and so on were perpetuated. As civilization progressed and people communicated understanding, compassion and empathy rose with it. Ancient religions that are still followed today contain laws and rituals that in today’s world are heinous crimes. For example, the Judeo-Christian belief system dates back to the willingness of a father to perform a human sacrifice of his child in order to prove loyalty to what was considered their ultimate deity of morality(god). Prophets claimed to hear the voice of god telling them his will. In today’s society, a man listening to voices in his head telling him to cut the throat of his son is considered danger to society requiring imprisonment. This time period asserted that god commanded a nation (the Israelites) to murder other nations including their babies and unborn. If we fast forward to the time of the gladiators, human hunting and so on it is evident that the vast majority of the population enjoyed watching other humans torture and kill each other as their main form of entertainment. It was the norm that every human had witnessed and/or been at the receiving end of murder, rape, assault and all kinds of atrocities. This is no longer accepted. Harmful acts toward other humans are unlawful and punishable. Witnesses and victims require medical and psychological treatment and are free to fight for justice. In recent history slavery was part of the constitution of many countries. People were sold and enslaved based on belief, race and gender. The slave owners felt justified in their actions from their religious texts and a sincere belief of their superiority to other humans. Slaves were considered a divine right from god and therefore, not immoral. But when the definition of morality began to include basic human rights wars arose to end slavery and rewrite constitutions. People understood the need to separate religion and law. The practice of stoning women believed to not be virgins at the time of marriage is over. Yet from the same book that commanded this to happen people maintained that gay humans should not be granted the right to marry and be with the person they loved. Hate crimes toward homosexuals continued to occur and resulted in many people living in fear for their lives. Slowly but surely we are recently accepting that homosexual humans are legally deserving of equal human rights. As we see through the ages, human morality is ever-changing. The more civilized we become, the more we interact, the more empathy we feel for each other all resulting in deeper understanding, compassion and inevitably upgrading our definition of morality.

In the 19th century novels were condemned and feared by the older generation. Concerns voiced about books evoking dangerous emotions in youngsters, too much time being spent reading and so on led to the belief that books were corrupting the minds of their youth and making women dishonourable. In retrospect we can laugh at these ridiculous myths but let’s look at today’s concerns. Our older generations constantly condemn new technologies that arise. Human beings are creatures of habit. Anything new is always seen as a threat to those who cannot understand it. The internet has been the centre of criticism for a long time. Smart phones, computers, computer gaming, social networking; these are all openly condemned by the generation that did not grow up with it. These technologies have, however, opened up new methods of learning, researching truth, exposing injustices, increasing brain activity, hand-eye coordination and many other extremely beneficial human capabilities. Civilization, technology and science have been rapidly increasing quality of life, awareness, education, health, life span and human advancement in every way. Over time the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, after being learned about, are now utilized by all – including those who previously had aggressively and passionately condemned it. Communication and education has always proven to be fundamental to our progression.

Sex education is still highly debated among the parent generation currently. Regardless of having knowledge of sex, teenagers experiencing puberty are going to be overwhelmed by their new desires and have sex anyway. No one can stop this. The purpose of educating the young is to raise awareness of what it is, the consequences and how to avoid them. Instead the debate leads to insufficient education, incorrect education or just pretending it does not exist. The consequences of this has led to teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assault and abuse; and all because the older generation don’t want us to talk about it. As the series 13 Reasons Why becomes more popular, the criticism against it also rises. Now, I’m not denying that there are good and bad aspects to it. No. That’s just ignorant. Everything we use, have and create will always have both advantages and disadvantages. The pros have to outweigh the cons for it to be a success for humanity. Bringing awareness to a serious problem in society is not a bad thing. This series show the explicit reality behind suicide. It shows how our actions affect each other and what we can do to help once we recognize the signs of a suicidal human. It shows a detailed insight to the effects of rape, bullying and suicide. Some say it glorifies suicide as a way to make people feel bad about what they did to you. In my personal opinion that is an extremely uninformed and unsympathetic view to have on those who experience these struggles. Every human being is different in their reactions to the world. One cannot impose what they feel others would feel as the truth. Again, like sex education, pretending that suicide doesn’t exist is simply not going to make the problem go away. Almost every person who has experienced rape, assault and severe bullying have contemplated suicide and many have gone through with it. The reason behind the increasing numbers in suicide can be attributed to a severe lack of awareness. A class in school listing methods of finding help or having a motivational talk once a year will not cut it. It just will not. Majority of rapes are never reported because majority of those reported render indifference, disbelief, further bullying, public shame, accusations of ‘asking for it’, minimal or zero punishment of convicted perpetrators; the list is long and horrendous. Most sexual assault, pedophilia and incest cases are part of a scarily large number of families’ skeletons in the closet. The victims are silenced and their stories are swept under the carpet to protect social standing. No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to hear about it. Taboo subjects like suicide and rape are never going to get better if we don’t first acknowledge its ever-prevalent presence and start talking about why it happens and how we can prevent it from happening. Recognizing behaviours of those suicidal is essential to knowing when to intervene and how to do so. Knowing how our behaviours and actions toward another human can contribute to this fatal decision is essential. Empathizing with someone who was driven to the point of killing themselves is essential. How else do you convey human emotion and understanding better than showing a story that invokes the feelings of the watchers. How else do you make victims feel like they’re not alone and that people actually care. Showing the pain, blood and details of the act of suicide in extreme detail is terrifying. I do not believe that those who commit suicide are cowards. Not in the slightest. It takes extreme circumstances to push a human being to ignore the most fundamental desperate urge to survive and take their own life. This human would have had to exhaust every single reason to live. This series also shows suicidal human beings the effects of their actions on their families and loved ones. It shows pain and human suffering that comes with losing someone so horrifically. Empathy comes from awareness and communication.

When we learn to understand one another and talk, we can finally begin to start helping one another and solving our issues. When we talk to each other and listen, we begin to see each other as human. When we read, share and pass on information, we show others what it’s like to be us resulting in empathy and compassion toward each other. We need to stop condemning advancement in civilization and open our minds to new ideas. We need to talk about everything. We need to understand. Only then can we progress to our full potential as human beings.

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