Op-Ed: Keep Calm, Be Patient, and Think!

Good news! I am 99.5% better. Just some residual tiredness and stuffiness, but fading fairly well. Huzzah! Today I can work on A Game of Stakes!

But first I wanted to get this out there: Keep calm, be patient, and think.

All three of these things seem to be a lost cause for many these days. Patience is for those who “don’t care about the issues.” Keeping calm is “for the uncaring.” And thinking is something done by those who “just don’t want to face the ‘facts.” Instead, the social sphere would have us leap forward as quickly as possible, acting on immediate emotional reactions and snap judgements.

Why am I talking about this? Well, because of the last month. In my country, there was a massive mediastorm revolving around a man named Kavanaugh. For those who luckily missed all the controversy, Kavanaugh was nominated to a position on the Supreme Court (one of the three branches of the US government). And, almost immediately, had sexual assault allegations issued against him. A number of women came forward claiming that he had visited all sorts of horrific sexual acts against them, which clearly made him unfit for the position. The media (and one prominent political party) latched onto these allegations with a deathgrip. They were everywhere. A senate hearing was called, in which several of these women testified under oath. The FBI and Department of Justice got involved.

And the public? Sands and Storms, they lost their minds. As far as many of them seemed concerned, Kavanaugh was guilty until proven innocent. My Facebook wall became such a tirade of people calling for his imprisonment and even execution, without any sort of trial, that I flat out made use of the temp-block feature to silence some of these folks for 30 days because they were acting insane. Any calls for them to calm down from their baying for blood? To wait for an actual investigation into things? You were trying to cover up Kavanaugh’s crimes because you were sexist. The biggest concession any of these raging, emotional individuals could make was that Kavanaugh should be investigated … wait for it … but not any of his accusers, as they’d already had enough stress put on them by coming forward.

The alarming trend here was how ruthless, mob-like, and emotionally charged these people were. There was no “keeping calm.” Someone had claimed sexual assault, and no one would do that if it wasn’t true (obviously?) so the “facts” were clear.

Nevermind that “Justice is Blind” for a reason. And that we follow “innocent until proven guilty.” One of the individuals I ended up debating this with even went as far as to declare that “innocent until proven guilty” was clearly outdated, and was being used as a corrupt shield to cover the criminal.

It went on and on. The problem was that none of these people wanted to think. They were making snap, angry judgements. Acting on raw emotion. But worse, they were so convinced that was the proper path that they were actively resisting any attempt to find truth, fact, and reason.

Look, we’re emotional beings. But that doesn’t mean that rooting out the truth of something makes us “callous,” “cold,” “lacking empathy,” or as several people on my feeds put it, just straight up “sexist against women.” Being rational means that we control our emotions rather than being controlled by them.

Unfortunately, it would seem that a lot of people no longer have that capacity for self-control. Instead, they’re ruled by their emotions, lashing out at the first target they see. There’s no stepping back and looking at things objectively. There’s no trying to piece together the whole story. There’s only their emotions telling them to strike the first target that presents itself.

Which, in this case, was crying for the imprisonment and execution of someone without a trial or investigation of any kind.

Now, why bring this up? Because thankfully, while these people who were controlled by the fires of their emotional outrage (and, if I’m honest, it was stoked by one another and news media, who feeds on outrage like a vampire on blood), the ones in charge of carrying out such “justice” thankfully are a little more reasonable. They didn’t cave. Instead, they said “Okay, investigation time.” And they went to it despite the cries of the public that “it wasn’t needed” or that Kavanaugh was “so obviously guilty” (one of the indicators of this to the emotional crowd was, no joke, the fact that he said he was innocent).

And the result? It’s starting to look like he was and is innocent. Of the three primary accusers of sexual assault, all three have folded. The third has been found to have a criminal record of psychopathic, self-aggrandizing behavior, including one incident where police were summoned because she tracked down a now-married ex and threatened to harm or kill him and his wife and child unless he got back together with her. The second is still under investigation, but her testimony and claims are all under scrutiny because they raise many red-flags under criminal investigation for being rehearsed. IE, too many odd facts that real victims don’t recall, such as specific full names being used by other people, etc.

The first? The one who testified in front of the senate, under oath? She’s likely going to face criminal charges, as is her lawyer. The FBI investigation has found that her story doesn’t hold water, and that worse, those who she claimed would corroborate her story have put forth conflicting stories with far different versions of events. When questioned about this, as well as inconsistencies in her own story, she relented and claimed that her lawyer made her say the things she did, and made her twist her words into something different. Which doesn’t fly when you’re under oath, by the way.

The point? Well, there’s still a chance Kavanaugh could be guilty. That’s the whole point of an investigation. But right now, it’s not looking so hot. It would seem that he is, as claimed, innocent.

Maybe not. Again, that’s the whole point of an investigation. But whether or not he is isn’t the point of this post.

No, the point of this post is that many people are far too easily dominated (not controlled) by their emotions. There were calls for this man’s execution, without trial on my Facebook wall. And now, as more level heads have taken control, it would seem that this man is in fact innocent of the charges leveled against him. We have an accuser claiming that she only lied under oath to the senate during the hearings because her lawyer made her.

What if there hadn’t been level heads? This outrage, this anger, would have controlled those easily swayed by it into executing someone who was innocent. Or at the very least, destroying his life permanently.

All those people who were screaming online that he needed to be destroyed in any way or fashion? They were, in their eagerness to be ruled by their own emotions, their refusal to step back and look, baying for the blood of someone who, now it seems, committed no crime.

They were a lynch mob. And there were a scarily large number of them out there. And to all of them, all I can say is that they should be ashamed of how easily they were controlled by their emotions. How easily they let rational thought slip away and reverted to an almost animalistic thirst for blood.

If you were one of them? You should probably step back and take a long, careful look at yourself in the mirror. If you’re that easily controlled and overcome by just an accusation, what else are you losing control over in your life? How many decisions are you making not because you’ve thought about it, but because someone (even yourself) stoked the fires of the emotions and you lashed out?

Again, there’s nothing wrong with having emotions and being influenced by them. But being controlled by them is another matter. It reminds me of the line from Valve’s Meet the Sniper video, where the sniper points out that he’s a professional, not a madman, before making the observation that ‘Blokes with feelings in it are the ones who bludgeon their wife to death and go to prison.’

It’s said as dark humor, but there’s a scary grain of truth there. Those that let their emotions rule them lose control. They are the kind that, as the sniper puts it, ‘blugeon their wife to death’ in a moment of uncontrolled, stoked rage.

Don’t be that person. Don’t let your emotions rule you. Instead? Step back. Take a calming breath. Respect the emotion but stay in control. Be patient: Sometimes getting the facts and figuring out what really happened can take a while. And then? Think. Use your mind. Put pieces together. Ask questions. Investigate.

Then, then, put forth your result.

People ruled by emotion do terrifying things.

Please don’t be one of them.

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