I'm sad. We got some tear gaz downstairs yesterday because the police was breaking up a local rally. I've seen/ heard/ read [on- & offline] things I couldn't have imagined possible. My only consolation prize is to know that my great-grand-ma [named Tiszelman; born in Poland and who ran away during the 30's to come to France] isn't here anymore to (re-)experience such darkness.
I've heard 'virtue signalling' a few times in the past few years - mostly on twitter actually - and while I understood the concept and critics pointed out behind it I also felt pretty distant. Like a 'oh here's something between some activists and companies'. And then recently I realised (a) that behavior is present all around me way more than anticipated/ thought at first (b) it affects me and my mood pretty often. Let's unpack this.
I've contemplated all the recent frenzy around the vaccines. Well, I should say the 2020-all-year-round frenzy in almost every thing, area and topic but let's breathe & stay calm for the moment. My birth country - France - was proudly last in the 'intent to get a COVID-19 vaccine' rankings. What a vote of confidence.
Meanwhile I was reading a good book - which was first a documentary - called: The Media The World And Me. A common theme was: how to (re)build trust?
I feel 'trust' might be the most & biggest missing component in today's society. Who to trust? Why? What to trust? How to learn to trust? How to regularly check where our trust is going?
I came across Arnold Schwarzenegger's comment when he got his vaccine.
I said this to someone in the comments, but I think a lot of you need to hear this.
I always say you should know your strengths and listen to the experts. If you want to learn about building biceps, listen to me, because I've spent my life studying how to get the perfect peak and I have been called the greatest bodybuilder of all time. We all have different specialties.
Dr. Fauci and all of the virologists and epidemiologists and doctors have studied diseases and vaccines for their entire lives, so I listen to them and I urge you to do the same. None of us are going to learn more than them by watching a few hours of videos. It's simple: if your house is on fire, you don't go on Youtube, you call the damn fire department. If you have a heart attack, you don't check your Facebook group, you call an ambulance. If 9 doctors tell you you have cancer and need to treat it or you will die, and 1 doctor says the cancer will disappear, you should always side with the 9. In this case, virtually all of the real experts around the world are telling us the vaccine is safe and some people on Facebook are saying it isn't.
In general, I think if the circle of people you trust gets smaller and smaller and you find yourself more and more isolated, it should be a warning sign that you're going down a rabbit hole of misinformation. Some people say it is weak to listen to the experts. That's bogus. It takes strength to admit you don't know everything. Weakness is thinking you don't need expert advice and only listening to sources that confirm what you want to believe.
This is beautifully written. I agree. My only concern goes towards people, institutions, systems that have a big audience and don't care about lying. They don't care about trust. They don't care about their impact long-term on other people's minds. They are dangerous. I don't think it's a good tactic to fight them directly. Our best option is to educate each others, giving our trust sparingly and staying alert. Utilmately, not being afraid of a 'I don't know' or another 'I changed my mind'.
Few recent examples that made me laugh [kinda].
My wife is pregnant. She needed a drug for something specific. I went to the pharmacy, explained what she was going through, told them she was pregnant and they gave me drug X. Few days later, she was still suffering. We called the doctor and told her everything, she recommended drug Y. I went to the pharmacy again and got it. We read on the package later that day that this drug wasn't recommended for pregnant women. We called the doctor again: "yeah but no worries the drug company just has to put this on the package for the insurance company, but of course in your case, this is harmless and exactly what you need". Hmmm. Interesting. Great way to build trust for sure [towards the pharmacy, the doctor herself, the drug company & the insurance company].
Politicians are the best at this. Sorry the one below is in french only. But @ 1min04, french minister literally declared "risk of importation - of coronavirus - from Wuhan is close to 0" & it goes on like this. Even worse @ 3min54: "the blue mask protects from nothing". Well it didn't age well [original footage was from late January 2020].
So, I'm all in to listen to the experts but honestly, it's getting harder & harder to know who's one.
I'm enraged by the current situation. I'm deeply sad that we are still guilty of such injustice. I'm concerned by the lack of empathy. I sometimes wonder wether we're truly able to be humanist - as a society.
Now I'm obsessed with one thing everyday when I look at my 1 year-old son: what can I do exactly / what should I show him / how to make sure he's actively & fully part of something much better. I believe my wife and I are capable of such a thing. Actually, we have to succeed.
Below are first thoughts we had, we'll go through some iterations for sure, we'll need to confront this against reality, to adapt and progress. I read a lot of good intentions these past few weeks but haven't gone through much things towards babies, kids & education as a whole. How school should start tomorrow to teach differently for instance? I haven't read anything impactful on the topic so far; which saddens me. How everyone at home should start right now to raise awareness among the whole family? The list goes on.
I do think that education is key here. After all, as parents [but not only, as grand-parents as well, as godfathers, friends, brothers & sisters, aunts & uncles, teachers, etc.] we do set up examples & give some backgrounds & context for generations to come. My son isn't born racist. I see him today treat 100% equally his black & white friends at kindergarten. If we're not active & intentional though, I'm afraid he might become at some point. Because it's sneaky, it's part of our culture. Let's pause. Writing this hurts me. I want us to change. Then, I want his generation to finally experience a real humanist & peaceful world.
I'd love to know your thoughts on the topic, your realisations too, your own blindspots, your actions. It'll obviously be a continuous work-in-progress on our end.
In no particular order:
- we want our son to develop strong ties with some black kids; since I don't believe we could force any specific friendship or love; we could influence his environment though; and that's where it becomes a number game at the end. Few areas we're thinking about: geography [which type of neighborhood, city, country are we living in], school, social activities [like personally I met most of my black friends through boxing].
- this applies to ourselves as well; today our son is playing with a black friend because we met her parents and became friends with them. Though we realised we don't have a lot. Let's be more intentional with this.
- speak out against anything racist we will hear - always; coming from anyone; 'jokes' included; no matter the context: family, professional, etc. And let's be radical about it.
- get deeply involved in the historical lessons our kids will get along the way; and always provide few other angles. I remember how enlightening it was for me during my years in Singapore to read & learn about World War II through a South-East Asian angle, it felt like a totally different event [and it was a humbling experience].
- be extra-careful with the set of aspirational examples he'll get growing up [like these athletes, artists, leaders, entrepreneurs, etc.] - this one looks challenging and will also depend on the geography I think but this is very impactful. Growing up in France in the 90's I realise: highest politicians = all white; leaders in biggest corporations = all white; black people? hmmm... few in the soccer team, few artists here & there - this is bad because it doesn't reflect the reality of the french society.
Photo by Kadir Celep - we used to live in this neighborhood in Berlin
Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh no no"
- Beyonce, "Crazy in Love"