This morning, while I was dropping of packages, I listened to a pair of postal employees argue over who was right and who was wrong in a recent shooting case. As I listened, the following thought occurred to me. I’m still turning it over in my head to see if it rings true.
As a private citizen it is not my job to judge individuals (unless I’m on a jury), but it is my job to pass judgement on the systems which judge those individuals and the laws that they are judged by. It is also my job to take action if I feel the systems or laws are broken or unfair.
In traveling to and from the post office, I pass by a giant flag that waves over a grocery store parking lot. It was at half mast. Again. And I tried to remember when I last saw it at full mast. Or when it last spent an appreciable length of time at full mast. I would like to have a couple of months where no national or international tragedies send flags half way down the pole. It has all started to blur a bit, is this the left over half mast from last week, or the new one from yesterday? I don’t want to be asking that question anymore.
I recently had someone say to me that the internet is in it’s “wild west” phase. That with the advent of social media we haven’t had enough time to build social rules and laws about appropriate behavior as digital citizens of the online community. This feels true to me. It also starts me thinking about history, because social upheaval is not a new phenomenon. I wonder how societies felt as they navigated from having a mostly illiterate populace into having a mostly literate one. That changed all the rules. It shifted the balances of power. It changed the world forever. Or what about the shifts from hunting and gathering to agriculture? Again all the structures changed and it must have felt like the world was falling apart.
I’m certain that there were battles and deaths over both literacy and agriculture. There still are on smaller scales. It is always terrifying when the solutions which used to work don’t anymore. It is frightening when a person is used to having a particular capability and that capability is removed. It is frightening to see power shift into new hands, because we don’t know what those hands will do with it. Fear makes people rash in their decisions and actions.
I can only hope that since one of the hallmarks of the digital revolution is the speed at which things alter, that this will also be reflected in the speed at which we settle into social structures which are more adaptive for the post-internet era.