Zoe Weil is a blogger for Psychology Today, and we share her blog posts with you here.
Despite the fervent hopes of so many that the dawn of 2021 would quickly turn the page on the traumas of 2020, we should not have been surprised that the year got off to such a dangerous and violent start.
The fanned embers of polarization – stoked by so many in the U.S. federal and state governments, through social media platforms, and by all who have been indulging in divisive speech and writing – have burst into the flames of both skyrocketing COVID cases and a war zone in Washington, DC.
Yet, while we may rightly locate responsibility where it’s due, it’s time for each of us to do some soul searching and embrace our personal responsibility for solving the problems we are facing rather than continue to fan the flames of discord.
While it’s both easier and psychologically gratifying to frame most issues in our society as either/ors and then choose our side and rage with abandon, this approach practically always exacerbates problems, making us complicit in their perpetuation. If we regularly shore up our arguments, insult, unfriend, and cancel others, we will be too busy to focus on the most powerful approach at our disposal: being solutionary.
I’m not suggesting that we should remain neutral and fail to take a position on moral issues. That would be its own either/or. As Elie Wiesel said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” But when side-taking becomes our end game, we miss the opportunities at our disposal to create better systems that can lead to a society where we can all survive and thrive.