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December 1, 2020

For most of my life, I always believed that everyone, regardless of their point of view, was coming from a good place. I believed that people could only continue to promote their views and actions if they believed that they were the right thing to do for the betterment of society and humanity. Everyone believed in their cause. The world is complicated, and while we all mostly just want to live our lives in peace, because of limited resources we have to make compromises and come up with solutions to keep things going. And of course everyone comes up with somewhat different solutions, that sometimes clashes. Differences in world view, which are better or worse depending on your point of view, value set, and expectations.

Of course there have always been a handful of people who promote actions that seem completely counter to any possible moral value set. These are the deviants, and are easy to identify and filter out. The trolls on the internet. The cult leaders. Criminals. And then the people who were born without the capability of discerning what is right and wrong, unable to feel guilt, unable to consider how other people feel. Of course those people cannot be held at fault for their actions. But they were easy to identify. And they don’t have major impact on the world as a whole. World War II was in the past. The problem was fixed. We have systems to prevent such issues now. Geneva convention. United Nations. We are an enlightened society.

That’s what I believed.

I think there was a clear period of time in 2016 when it slowly became more and more clear that my views were wrong. I still hold my earlier beliefs about most people. Regardless of your religion or political leaning, most people believe these things because they believe this is the right way to all that is right and good. But it has slowly become more and more clear to me that there are some bad players out there that are consciously doing bad things and spreading falsehoods for the sake of personal financial gain or power. And it has slowly become more and more clear to me that many people succumb to these dark holes of misinformation and conspiracies. It turns out it’s not that easy for most people to identify these things as wrong. And even with evidence, it’s difficult for many people to let go of the beliefs. Bad players tricking us from the outside. Our brains tricking us from the inside. And these bad players can have a massive influence on how everything goes.

I still think that most people touting these views are simply victims. It’s not their fault. And they usually have some really good reasons for listening to these bad players, and some really good reasons for wanting to believe them. They mean well. But they are victims. And continuing to follow these bad players is bad for them in the short term and bad for all of us in the long term. It hinders progress. Hurts good people. Wastes time, money, and resources. Wastes lives.

But it’s scary to think that we really haven’t learned our lessons from World War II. The safeguards in place aren’t fool proof. And people are so very susceptible to being led astray.

I miss the times before 2015 when I was innocent to all of this. When the world was a simpler and safer place.