As a child, often I would find myself looking up at the night sky, seeing all those stars, and become gleeful at the thought of the future. The world when I grew up would be an amazing place. I was (and am) huge into science fiction, and I thought my generation would build the foundations for the great human space age, and our eventual peaceful coexistence with not only each other, but alien life we were sure to meet.
I’m an adult now, and the fact is, we’ve set the bar too low for that to happen.
Right off, lets make it clear what I mean by “we.” I’m talking straight white men. Why am I only talking to my fellow SWM? well, we are the ones with the power to set the bar. We are the ones who don’t have to fight ingrained social stigmas and standards every day, and by and large, we are the ones currently setting the bar.
What is the bar? The bar is our social interactions. In short, it’s how we treat each other. If we want to move into the stars, and eventually meet other life we must first learn how to treat the life we connect with here.
We set this low bar every day. Let me give a few examples:
The Nice Guy:
This one has to do with dating/interpersonal relationships where we have once again set the bar at “I showed you a basic level of respect, and did only the simplest of things, now you have to let me fuck you”
Not only does this not make any fucking sense, it is literally the lowest bar we can set for romantic interactions. Being a decent person does not take into account any other fact that might make someone want to date you/not date you.
The “Freedom of Speech”:
Look, we all get it. In most places in the west we have freedom of speech to varying degrees. The USA has almost absolute freedom (you still can’t yell “FIRE” in a crowded place), whereas Canada has more restrictions on Hate Speech (no, you cannot encourage someone to kill jews here) but we all have it.
That said, if the best argument you can make for you point is “It is technically not illegal for me to make this point”… you need to rethink your position. Yet this is still a common thing. People all over yell this when questioned/told off for saying some pretty stupid shit, which leads us to…
The “Teach the Controversy”:
Often this is said about evolution, but we have started letting it apply to all walks of life. No, butter will NOT fix major burns, and no, your diet cannot cure cancer. In our modern world though, we have this idea that we have to let everyone with an idea share it on a wide scale, whether it’s supported or not.
We’ve set the bar for what people should be taught at “crazy uncle dave believes….” and that’s definitely harming our future as much as the others harm our present. We might be able to disagree respectfully on matters of opinion… but that should not be allowed to extend to matters of fact.
Lastly, The “I’m not a Racist”:
This one comes up a lot lately. People (ok, white people) scramble to trot out their black friends, point out how they don’t even think racist thoughts, and how once they even liked a song by Dr. Dre. Much like being a Nice Guy, not being a racist isn’t an accomplishment. No one deserves kudos for not judging someone based on their skin colour. This is called being a decent human being. If it’s the best you’ve got, try harder. Police have to be held to a higher standard than “I was scared of the black guy”, and we need to be sure that fear was reasonable, not based on social prejudices.
So what do we do about it? We have to raise the bar. We speak up when we see people making this low bar claims. We use the fact that we don’t have to waste all our energy fighting prejudice and social conditioning to fight against these low bar moments, and raise the bar.