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Society Is Poisoned. But Is There An Antidote?

As many of you know, I have done my best to remain as apolitical as possible whenever writing because I want to respect all peoples views. My commentary has never painted a political party with a wide brush, but I have - deservedly - called out certain individuals for continual misinformation.

I had the opportunity to join a Zoom call yesterday that was focused on educating individuals not previously politically active on how to contribute our time and energy to the upcoming election.

And the largest focus was on helping people to get registered and encouraging people to get out and vote.

This is the ideal way for me to participate. I wanted to contribute my time to help increase voter turnout, but I did not want to do so if it required me to impose my beliefs on others. Fortunately, there are organizations available whose purpose is to register and support voters so their voice may be heard.

But just because I have tried to minimize political chatter in my posts, it does not mean I do not think about it. I definitely do. And I think about it in two ways:

Political ideology


Political fervency.

Political ideology is how we traditionally think about politics. Left vs Right, Liberal vs Conservative. Ultimately, Issues vs Issues. This is a linear spectrum and generally how one describes their politics.

But this by itself is too simplistic. If the issues were the only focus, then we must assume an absence of emotion and a clear reflection of data only interpreted via rational thought.

And that is not the world we live in.

Based on the degree of our political fervency - or our emotion/passion in regards to politics - the ideological line begins to bend in both directions. And as the line becomes increasingly bent, open minds start closing. Rational thought becomes increasingly irrational.

And we get to where we currently exist as a society.

Imagine this idea being represented by the Earth. And the North Pole and South Pole represent two absolute extremes, neither of which exists in reality in their absolute form.

The North Pole represents someone who does not have any thoughts or beliefs about politics in general, is 100% rational, and completely open-minded to all view points.

The South Pole represents someone who represents the "absolute zero"-like extreme of a political ideology, is absolutely closed off to any other view points, and communicates only with emotion and absence of rational thought.

The further from the North Pole one travels in either direction, the more extreme ones particular ideology becomes and the less open-minded and rational one remains. Stay north of the equator, rational dialogue still has a chance to exist. But once the equator has been passed, extremes of ideology influenced by fervency results in an increasingly closed mind and politics dictated by emotion and irrational thought.

The issues no longer matter. And the desire to be RIGHT outweighs all other considerations.

THIS is why the extreme Right AND extreme Left are fucking terrifying.

I have seen the value of a person's life being judged by the extremes on BOTH sides. I am sick of the hypocrisy where some believe they hold the moral high ground and can dictate whose life is valuable or not, when the moral high ground should NEVER salute the loss of a human life.

There is no right way to do the wrong thing.

My colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston who took care of the Tsarnaev brothers when they both were in the ICU did NOT let their emotions, their beliefs, their politics, get in the way of their duty: to do their best to preserve a human life, no matter how shitty of a human-being they were. THAT is the moral high ground.

I am not saying evil people do not exist in this world. They absolutely do. And do I think the world would be a better place if certain individuals did not exist? Yes. But one thing you will NEVER see me do is cheer for or celebrate the loss of, or near loss of, a human life. And neither should any of you.

Whether it is a black person walking down a street and minding his own business.

Or whether they are two cops sitting in their car and minding their own business.

If you feel such hate within you that you believe the death of another is the only way to appease that hate, I feel sorry for you. The world needs love and compassion, not hate and the desire for revenge.

Society today seeks to blame others and avoid any semblance of personal responsibility. Everyone is a victim. Which means eventually, someone becomes a victim's victim. And the never-ending downward spiral continues.

People need to STOP being this:

"The mentality to get revenge is the most sick mentality which is enough to destroy the entire civilization. Revenge is the path stupid people take to escape their suffering. But they don't know that it actually increases their suffering instead of decreasing." - Shantanu Dey

And START being this:

"May we not succumb to thoughts of violence and revenge... but rather to thoughts of mercy and compassion. We are to love our enemies that they might be returned to their right minds." - Marianne Williamson

A last thought: I have seen many comments regarding the movie The Social Dilemma on NetFlix. I have not seen the movie itself, so the following commentary is only directed towards those comments, and not a reflection of the movies actual intent. Many of those comments seem to blame artificial intelligence (AI) for creating and promoting extremes of thought on social media, brainwashing us, and thus significantly contributing to the rapid deterioration of, and endangering, civilized society.

Sadly, I have news for everyone: society as a whole was mostly civilized only because our perception of it was shaped based on what we could see or observe. We could perceive civility in others day-to-day actions, but NOT in others day-to-day thought.

Here is a conversation I had with my brilliant cousin Abhi - paraphrased - regarding AI, whose entire research focus is in the field of AI and reinforcement learning, and who is currently working with one of the world's experts in AI at Columbia:

Abhi: "Whatever biases are present in the data will be reflected in the choices that the AI makes. It is ultimately finding patterns in the data that it is provided. So if there are biases, it will find those biases. But it is NOT creating those biases. Data in the world tends to be extreme because for the most part, only extreme data is worth sharing. What's the point of sharing data that is obvious or not extreme or generally accepted?"

Me: "So, for example, if the AI was given information that a plane on 9/11 crashed into a building (the WTC) but NOT multiple examples of planes NOT crashing into buildings, it would view the plane crashing into the WTC as an expected occurrence, correct?"

Abhi: "Yes. Radical, provocative content draws attention, not the mundane. And AI is able to summarize all the data that has already been put out into the world, data that has ALWAYS been there but we, as humans, have not been able to neatly collate ourselves. Because the data is overwhelming."

In summary: the AI is just doing its job. It is not at fault. It is OUR fault. It is the thoughts we have already put in the world that the AI is picking up on. And now AI is being blamed.

Again - always the victim.

The AI is only revealing the poisonous thoughts that have been secretly sickening much of society for years, much like COVID has revealed. AI has just exposed the weakness, and lack of critical thinking, of the human mind.

My stance is to not cling to ignorance of the realities of the world because it is easy or simple to do so. This poison exists and has existed, whether we wish to acknowledge it or not. Is it uncomfortable to confront this toxicity head-on? Absolutely. But growth, progress, and change ONLY come during uncomfortable times.

I say embrace the realities of the world; do not run. Seek cures that may heal the ails of society, cures that may neutralize the poison which has sickened it all along, a poison that no longer is able to lurk and hide in the shadows. This illness has been ignored for FAR too long.

The health of society is a collective reflection of its people individually. As a society, we are unhealthy physically, but most importantly, mentally. Shattering the mirror may eliminate the reflection.

But who you are, what society is, will always remain.

We cannot afford to wait, to hide, to run. Because what terrifies me the most, is this:

Has the poison progressed to the point that even if we found an antidote, would it even matter?

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