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The Importance of Voice, and Recognizing Disqualification

Attaining peace by the magical thinking of avoiding criticism and controversy, is like trying to purchase the fruits of deep meditation and yoga. This manifests as a backwards self-fulfilling prophecy, where, by ignoring the pressure of difficult conversations, in the name of “agreeableness,” the pressure builds. By forfeiting our chance to make a controlled release of this pressure in ourselves and communities, the pressure is allowed to burst in our faces. Controlled releases may be challenging, but are ultimately nourishing, whereas if ignored to build, ferment, and burst, we all suffer the rancid floods. 

The arguments made against meaningful voice fall into three main categories. The first is that of denying the importance of voice, which is a subconscious response or preemption to being proven wrong, made out of a misunderstanding of the gravity of facing a correction versus persisting in folly. The second category is one of appeasing mob mentality, surrendering intellectualism in the pursuit of supposed agreeableness. This is built on the assumption that not offending ignorant people is more important than community dialogue and subsequent well-being. With such heavy funding going into ideological subversion to rile up sensationalism, this can be a very convincing illusion. Choosing appeasement however, is like knowing termites are infesting your house, and ignoring it to paint and decorate the exterior instead, and perhaps even adding a second story. It may look and feel great for a while, but then what?

The third reason for denying the meaning of voice, is confusion and blurred lines between constructive dialogue and useless quarreling. This is built on an ignorance of logic and decorum, with the added fuel of misunderstood subject matter and even worldview. Engaging with those suffering from this misunderstanding can be quite the cliff’s edge, especially when combined with ideological fanaticism and idealistic denialism. Avoiding difficult topics in community forums because of childish reactions is an instance of coddling toxic behavior that any good parent will tell you is one of the worst things you can do to your child, to say nothing of it’s effect on the community at large.

This is something I’ve felt called to express and dissect in writing after several in-depth conversations with friends who I hold in very high regard. The point where our conversations have tended to hit the biggest roadblock was when discussing the very real stress endured by challenging groupthink. We’ve agreed the hostility of the reactions can be draining, with aggressors projecting their own pathologies onto those who dare to challenge falsehoods, sometimes no matter how respectfully and patiently. (The incredible irony of this behavior, is one the best sources of humor on earth, at least.) The personal insults and inability to even simply refute a subject without resorting to attacking a person’s character can be pretty disgusting. However, we are growing in our community awareness and ability to transmute projected shadows into truth. 

I write about this because I know that the largely unaddressed suffering is abated through awareness. When we simply normalize this awareness, the individual and collective benefits are immense. The disconnect caused by voicelessness is at the heart of the anxiety and depression epidemic. Accepting diversity is a beautiful thing, but must be balanced with identifying and removing toxicity. It may not be the prettiest truth, but some people openly display that they simply have no place in public or private forums. We should not be resentful and harbor poisonous hatred, but at the same time, real inclusiveness requires disqualifying from participation those who display clear disregard to the basic standards of decency in communication and community. Not only is this the healthiest course of action for you and your loved ones, it’s best for the disqualified too. Through the tough love of cutting them off from avenues for hostility towards self and others, we effectively end our enabling and endorsement of such destructive behavior.