I remember 9/11 quite distinctly. I was in my office and there came images that were more than disturbing. In the beginning I had no real concern. I knew a little about the World Trade Center Towers and estimated they would stand.
There was almost no factual information available. Small planes had struck them before without damage. Until the second plane hit, it might have been an accident.
Then the pentagon.
Then a fourth plane was disabled in flight by the passengers. Very brave and capable people.
It is likely the defining moment for western society from at least the end of WW II. A band of miscreants, from our viewing point, resident in caves, using box cutters as weapons, took down arguably the most visible symbol of finance and power.
People were forced by the circumstances to reconsider their advantages. Over the next two decades, the whole idea of the success of western society and culture came into dispute. It has come to be chaotic.
It lead to the adventure in Afghanistan. When you look objectively, the ending seems to have recreated the original problem, but with our adversary holding more and better weapons. I think we cannot argue any measure of success there.
It is very hard to establish how the world is better now. Objectively, it is easy to argue that North America and Europe are worse off.
In times of chaos people can behave to achieve collective goals, or they can distribute new ideologies. In the early going collective goals seemed to dominate. Examine how Gander Newfoundland responded to the arrival of 38 wide-body airliners and 7,000 people in their community of 10,000. The documentary “Come From Away” is wonderful. People helping people matters.
Do we still hold that message foremost or have we decided to fraction into dozens of intersectionality defined groups? Perhaps local community values survive. National is not obvious.
We may have had a delusional belief in our safety and power. Once we discover that delusion, where do we go next? We had two choices:
Looks like we have chosen option #1. Typically, divisive behaviour is contrary to building a strong society.
Consider a thought from the father of public relations and author of “Propaganda” and “Crystalizing Public Opinion.” Edward L. Bernays.
“The existence of a society based on individual rights and personal liberties is dependent on a population which has developed this capacity for individual-consciousness, or in other words on a society of individuals who understand themselves and treat others as individuals first and foremost.”
It seems we are moving toward crowd behaviour. We are creating dozens of identity based groups. . Where does it go?
“Each group…considers its own standards ultimate and indisputable, and tends to dismiss all contrary or different standards as indefensible.” (Crystallizing Public Opinion, Edward Bernays)
Do you see any evidence of that?
Divide and conquer works. “”Divide the many and weaken the force which was strong while it was united.” Machiavelli
Crowd psychology is not like individual psychology. A crowd does not behave like any individual within it. if you divide society into groups that are likely to clash – race, gender, religion, ethnicity, and political preference, you should expect people to spend their time in conflict rather than in building. You can agree that is not very productive. We are reacting poorly. Individualism and freedom built something that worked.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Charles Swindoll
We have more in common than anyone thinks. Overcome the propaganda. Build.
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