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Can Cancel Culture be Replaced With Forgiveness Culture?

Tina is a bilingual writer of unconventional fiction, a media graduate with a special focus on human sexuality and a content writer.

Humans Navigate More Than one Culture at all Times, Ideal Culture and Real Culture

The human community needs to appreciate, understand and accept differences to survive. Human beings are complex beings. Humans navigate more than one culture at all times, ideal culture and real culture.

Humans don’t always do what they say they do. Cancel culture is our time’s lynch mob, and their job is calling out real, not ideal people. People are good and bad, right and wrong. Humans are flawed. Cancel culture is not a new phenomenon. The world had lynch mobs in the medieval age, and they too thought they were divinely chosen to silence people. In 1500, people got publicly shamed for not being Christian. In 2021, people get shamed and cancelled for not being sufficiently woke, antiracist or disagreeing with queer theory/believing biology.

The Internet has given everyone a public voice, and many people use an online platform to perform wokeness.

Cancelling is Always Done in a Performative Way, so Everyone Knows who the Hero, Victim, and Villain are

It’s done by calling out the villain, rallying others to do the same, boycotting their work, reporting their accounts, take away their power, and this is all done in the name of perceived social justice. The hero demonstrates their good character, moral correctness and their superior stance on issues of importance. Most woke voices refuse to enter into a robust debate, so instead of growing and learning, people become static, stuck in old thinking. Cancel culture creates echo chambers as people are afraid to speak their true minds and instead only speak where people agree. The Internet has also given people the power to cancel people from the comfort of their homes. Cancel culture is retribution justice; it’s about control and conformity to ideals.

There is No Learning Attached to Being Cancelled

Conformity due to fear does not change anything. Cause and effect is a natural process. Cancel culture is not. People learn from natural consequences, not the human favoured reward and punishment. The right to free speech is almost as important as food. Life is sustained with food. Free speech is essential for growth. Name calling people who don’t agree with the mainstream narrative has the chilling effect of silencing people.

Within cancel culture, a different point of view can be hugely offensive and therefore deserving of a digital death at a minimum. Language or behaviour that are merely insulting can now be criminalised. Our open and free societies have created an authoritarian and controlling culture. People have a new intolerance of different viewpoints and a desire to silence dissenting people.

Everyone is free to voice their opinion, but if it’s the wrong view, if the utterances hurt someone’s feelings, trigger emotional discord, or reveal in some shape or form that the person is a member of the “out” crowd, the risk of being cancelled is huge.

The difference between the medieval lynch mob and the digital lynch mob is that no physical contact is necessary to kill someone. In cancel culture, there is no room for logical dissection of ideas. Viewpoints are seen as either good, safe and respectful or bad, dangerous and disrespectful.

To Make Everyone Feel Safe, No One is Safe

Cancel culture can take one tweet and destroy someone’s life or one bad experience in real life, put it online for the world to judge instead of dealing with the issue in real time. Having only limited information makes no difference in the court of the public lynch mob. There is no defence; it’s a permanent smear. Targets are always guilty, and the punishment is forever. Cancel culture can be used against anyone. Cancel culture targets celebrities and everyday people, and there is no onus of responsibility on the canceller. In the digital age, the right to be forgotten has been aired plenty, but not the right to be forgiven, but forgiveness comes first. This might seem trite to people seeking justice, but learning to forgive is essential. Everything is out there in cyberspace, ready to be found again and again and again.

The People Who Call For Others to be Cancelled See Themselves as Wiser

Perhaps even chosen due to their tribe.

These self-elected people are just as full of hate as those they accuse of spreading hate. They passionately spew out their anger over those they see as lesser humans - those wretched people with the wrong opinion, false view of life, who don’t see their own biases, acknowledge their privilege, and lack of culture or education. Those who seek to cancel other people see themselves as saviours, not abusive bullies.

Like the people they seek to cancel, they see themselves as a necessary contradiction to the normative narrative. Everyone can find their tribe online, and when people do, they feel the need to impose their distinct world views and moral values on others. There are many culture war battlefronts; woke versus anti-woke is only one. They are trying to divide society into the privileged and the oppressed.

Memetic tribes think knowledge is a social construct; science and reason are tools of oppression; all human interactions are sites of oppressive power play, and language is dangerous. Some tribes insist language is violent and that science is sexist. Others think that culture belongs to the originators. Some tribes insist obesity is healthy and that biological sex is a construct. Other tribes say that only White people can be racist.

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Since 1945 there has been a war on masculinity, but hating on men won’t win the war. The culture war used to be framed as the blue tribe (left-wing) versus the red tribe (right-wing), but these are no longer sufficient to describe what’s happening.

Social justice is a sacred value of the memetic tribe of social justice activists. Social justice requires forgiveness. No one should pay for the sins of their ancestors. As Barack Obama said in 2019, the world is messy; there are a lot of ambiguities, bad people can do good stuff and vice versa. He talked about not judging. Everyone must take a step further; people must relearn how to forgive.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa Said, “Without Forgiveness, There is No Future”

In the early days of apartheid, Tutu urged its victims: “Be nice to Whites; they need you to rediscover their humanity.”

He and Nelson Mandela believed both the oppressed and the oppressor must be liberated.

Everything on the Internet is forever. It can never be taken down completely, and if one tries, it will draw more attention to what one wants to be forgotten. Forgiveness is a powerful force. To forgive, one must forgive the unforgivable, but is that possible? In the online course Love as a Force for Social Justice offered by Stanford University, students learn about agape love and how forgiveness is a key component of justice. This is potent stuff, not for the weak-hearted. Forgiveness is part of our spiritual well-being, but it’s not always good to ask for someone’s forgiveness. It can bring up the unforgettable. It can work better to act in a forgiving way.

An Unforgiving Person’s Self-Righteous Indignation Can Make Them Into Tyrants

People like this even dictate the victim status of others if they refuse to be one. This leads to hatred and resentment. Staying in our tribe, where everybody agrees, stops growth. To grow and be smart, humans need to look for the people who challenge them; that’s the only way to expand intelligence. Mistake making must be part of a thriving culture; otherwise, it becomes dictatorial. Without the ability to fail, to make mistakes, people can’t innovate. The vulgar idea of karma, one gets what one deserves, is a pagan idea and it doesn’t contain forgiveness, only repenting.

Humans Need to Learn Forgiveness to Improve Global Collaboration

They need to learn it now because the only way people will save the planet for humans to live on is if they learn to love strangers, forgive and collaborate.

In cultures with no forgiveness, there is a lack of imagination; mimicking is placed higher than imagination. Humans have to look for people with different opinions, backgrounds, and cultures because that’s how people expand their world and help others expand theirs. Humans have to learn to forgive and communicate with forgiveness.

“I hate people who cannot forgive” Friedrich Nietzsche

The Human Family Need a New Story, a Global Narrative

And, it doesn’t have to be true; it can be totally fictional.

People learn to cooperate through imagination, not through total honesty. People depend on time to heal wounds. Still, unless people also forget, they hold on, and holding on is not forgiveness. Forgiveness is good for our spiritual well-being, but no one can demand forgiveness. Forgiving and forgetting is divine. Those who reject forgiveness have never had to ask for it; they haven’t suffered. Online, tribes justify their fury by appropriating the grievances of others, especially of the past, and show their righteousness by how ardently they abominate wrongs of decades and centuries ago. Real justice and reconciliation is difficult work. Forgiveness has to be part of the mix.

Emotions Rule People

Human beings live in an online world, and the physical world is secondary. People need to redefine what it means to live in the physical world when digital is all around. Humans don’t understand the interaction between themselves and technology. People need to migrate from physical to digital to fully understand what’s happening. Forgiveness as an expression of love for social justice must be part of the mix.

Sources:

  1. Jon Ronson, How one tweet can ruin your life (Youtube 20/7/2015)
  2. Peter N. Limberg, Conor Barnes, The Memetic Tribes Of Culture War 2.0 (Medium 14/9/18) https://medium.com/s/world-wide-wtf/memetic-tribes-and-culture-war-2-0-14705c43f6bb
  3. Emily S. Rueb and Derrick Bryson Taylor, Obama on Call-Out Culture: ‘That’s Not Activism’ https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/31/us/politics/obama-woke-cancel-culture.html
  4. Excerpt from Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom https://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=2175
  5. https://www.coursera.org/learn/love-social-justice
  6. Yuval Noah Harari, 28 – Two Million Years in Two Hours: A Conversation with Yuval Noah Harari, (Centre for human technology, 15/1/2021) https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/28-two-million-years-in-two-hours-a-conversation-with-yuval-noah-harari

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Tina Brescanu

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