Do I have to?

               I’ve been thinking, again, which is bad on so many levels, because I’m usually on the wrong side of the equation and people somehow seem to think disagreeing with me is a sure sign for a future Nobel prize. I think, but what comes out of my mouth might (well, I could say it’s a sure thing but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here) not necessarily be in the politically correct phrasing therefore people get offended and I get confused. I’m not a people person, I know that. I’m walking that small line between idiocy and genius, where the only thing that keeps you on either side is how you say things. The argument is actually irrelevant to this, as the question that’s been keeping me up at night these past few days is: “Do I have to take sides?”

               In my mind, I’ve had it run the neural gauntlet for a long time. It is an age-old question, actually. It’s the building block of psychological manipulation, used to control the masses since before the crusades. The easiest way for a leader to control his subjects is to point out the problems they’re facing, show them a scape goat that already has some shady reputation in their minds and tell them it’s them against the others and the only way to win is to support him. History taught us it’s super effective, and this was something used by many dictators and “revered” leaders – nazism versus the jews, Christians versus Muslim, Muslim versus everybody else, North versus South Korea, religion versus atheism, fundamentalists of all denominations against freedom and free speech, that sort of thing. Now, I’m not about to validate your fears or ideas – pick up a history book and decide for yourself where you stand. I’m going for something else, since I’m neither religious nor against morality. I’m thinking – and you don’t have to like it – where do we factor in the old, underestimated and underrated thing called common sense?

               I get it, in western culture we’re taught the basic tenets of christianity which happen to have some very sound principles, I’ve studied them myself because I had to, there was no way around them. But I’m still not buying the rest of them, because just like any other religion, they teach morality and ethics can’t be separated from religion. Dig a bit deeper and you have even more controversy – global warming, abortion, security by less freedom and more surveillance, nationalism, racism, xenophobia and other isms and phobias and on and on, and eventually you’ll get to a point where even science isn’t a safe haven anymore. Medical researchers falsifying vaccine data to sell books (Wakefield did that), psychology research proves almost impossible to reproduce (half of them are bogus, apparently which gets me even more confused), diet guidelines have a love/hate/love again relationship with fat and engineers start thinking laterally and creatively with engine  emissions – if they can’t reach the standards, they go around them. But we sent probes to Mars and other planets, asteroids or moons, which is nice. All this happens and I’m thinking like, what the hell, dude?

               Do we have to take sides? I understand the idea of looking at both sides in an argument but this is getting ridiculous. If some big car maker(s) get(s) caught with one hand in the cookie jar, does it mean the end of diesel as a fuel? If some idiots waving black flags and blowing up priceless ancient ruins get on the jihad wagon, does that mean Islam is to be a forbidden religion? If fundamentalist christians get all worked up on science and gay marriage bashing, does it mean public servants (don’t get me started on what the brits use that name for) can get away with not doing their jobs? Since when does common sense value less than political correctness? I don’t have to be an atheist to like science. I don’t have to be a christian to have only one wife. I don’t have to be religious to desire peace and prosperity for everybody. I don’t have to be a hippie to want freedom. There is such a thing called human rights (if they are rights apparently is open to debate). And I don’t have to be in Nigeria to recognize there’s more pressing matters to Africa than internet access.

               I’ve been writing this and thinking, again. I’m actually using “common sense” wrong. Or incorrectly. What is common sense in Saudi Arabia is not exactly common sense in Denmark or Texas. I should have used something else, maybe a sense of priority, maybe problem ranking or even the importance of each of the universal rights. Could work, I think. That way we could focus on the things that matter. But I’m not in charge. You know, what’s worse than some factory dumping toxic chemicals in a river? The jobs of the workers working there? Should that be a mitigating factor when thinking about bringing the hammer of justice down on that factory? Inconclusive. I don’t have the answer. That’s not the point, I’m not expected to have it. However, I’d have at least expected somebody to ponder on it, to try and find that missing answer. Because not looking for answers equals chaos, and chaos equals more chaos. Because of that, we ban GMOs without any proof while those same GMOs saved entire countries from famine and death, some say even a billion people avoided literal death because of one man who valued their lives more than the unproved fears of a bunch of “elitists who never experienced the physical sensation of hunger” (Norman Borlaug). War still rages against a few continents, Ebola was barely contained (barely) and whole countries lack healthcare, food and water but the way forward apparently involves a bunch of folks spending a lot of money on satellites to give Africa internet access. Really? They don’t have electricity and they’re dying by the thousands because clean water and food are luxuries but … I mean, who the hell’s paying for laptops and generators? And why? Because education is more important than food and water? Fix them for food, water and medicine and then teach them. Priorities, right?

               I’m confused. That human rights are so violated in Saudi Arabia apparently won’t disqualify them from getting elected to lead an influential UN human rights panel which sometimes gets them to investigate themselves (obviously, something that should be featured in parodies and political cartoons. Somebody’s really that dumb. Or they think we are. My money is on them not being dumb. And this one ends in a cliffhanger, because I’m so bloody relaxed.

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