The 21st century has brought us a world of “cancel culture” where one wrong phrase or action could land you on a figurative island of ostracism. Cancel culture is “political correctness on steroids.” American culture has morphed from a gentle parent to mind one’s manners to a shame-inducing zealot of morality. And no one is immune from getting “cancelled.” Heck, as I’m writing this now, there’s a good chance that someone is silently seething in their seat from these words on their screen.
When did we get so sensitive? When did we go from speaking up to shaming? When did we go from making a mistake to paying for it for the rest of our lives?
There’s an old Twilight Zone episode that comes to mind: Rod Serling’s The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street. We often hear, “history repeats itself,” and the 1960’s sci-fi episode is proof of this aphorism. Without giving the episode away, the story involves neighbors in a “quiet, suburban town” who suddenly lose electricity, sans explanation. When one neighbor’s car starts on its own, the other neighbors begin “canceling” him. Before long, with other lights in the neighborhood going on and off sporadically, neighbors begin to turn on neighbors. The late and great Serling was using sci-fi as a vehicle to highlight the onslaught of fear of communism.
Fear itself is the all terrain great vehicle for cancel culture: the unspoken “what if” that is temporarily flattened when attacking another. It’s temporary because, again, the next person to be canceled could be you.
However, there’s another side of cancel culture that goes unaddressed: canceling ourselves. Rejecting what we think and how we feel. The other day, I spoke with a friend who was upset with something her fiancé did.
“Do you think I have a right to be upset?”
Wow. It doesn’t matter what her fiancé did or didn’t do; what stood out to me was her unconscious decision to question her very emotion. She went on:
“I think I’m just going to stay quiet. Things are good between us. I don’t want to upset that.”
Double wow. Instead of allowing herself to feel the negative emotion—not bathe in it, mind you—just feel it, she shoved it down, away—no different than the way we cancel culture each other. There’s a famous quote by Rumi that comes to mind:
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”
The field, I believe Rumi was referring to, is Compassion. When we have compassion for ourselves and others, we are able to make mistakes and learn from them. We are able to grow and forgive ourselves and others. We are able to see that we are all in this life together and canceling one of us is canceling all of us.
Source: Author D. Eric Schansberg https://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/2021/03/29/cancel-culture-america-political-correctness/6991235002/