“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”
This line kept sticking in my head this week as I began to write a column about the sheep mentality that seems to exist today in America. By that, I mean the mentality of if enough people agree with something, it must be the gospel. It’s the mentality that if the social media continues to broadcast it, it must be true. It’s the mentality that if the public opinion of Facebook leans one way, I must lean that way also or be considered an idiot.
But here’s the thing – as I researched that opening quote on the internet, that very quote seems to back up my mindset…but in the opposite way I had previously thought. Do a quick search for that quote and you will find its origin has been heavily disputed throughout the years. It has been falsely attributed to founding father Alexander Hamilton. More recently, the quote has been claimed by a diverse group that includes Scottish clergyman Peter Marshall, human rights activist Malcolm X and actress Ginger Rogers.
The point of the above paragraph is we are so easily manipulated as a society today it is downright scary. “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything,” is such a great quote in and of itself. But just look at its history and you can see how easily it can be adopted by so many and used for different purposes and to promote different ideologies.
I realize I am probably in the minority, but I get so sick of seeing the same old garbage day after day on Facebook. I get tired of reading the same old partisan lines being shouted over and over by the same people. I am not trying to pick on Republicans OR Democrats here. What I am saying is this – no matter how often or how loudly you yell the same things over and over, you are not going to change my mind one way or another. You are wasting your breath…or keystrokes, to be more specific.
Take for instance the case of Cecil the Lion, the 13-year-old Southwest African Lion from the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe who was killed recently by an American recreational big-game hunter. It was a heinous act, no doubt, killing for sport, an act that sparked outrage across the globe from politicians, celebrities, and animal conservationists. It also served as the newest rallying cry amongst the Facebook mafia. Here was one of those causes that had to be yelled from the highest mountaintop to all the sheep below.
While Cecil’s death was a tragedy that shouldn’t have been allowed to happen, I wonder what the Facebook mafia would think to learn that the average Zimbabwean makes an average monthly income of $150? Or as Goodwell Nzou, a native Zimbabwean, wrote in a recent opinion piece, “We Zimbabweans are left shaking our heads, wondering why Americans care more about African animals than about African people.” Yes, that is quite a thought-provoking question Goodwell.
And while we are on the topic of innocent lives, it is rather ironic that many of the same people who are so up in arms about Cecil’s death don’t seem to have much to say on the topic of the approximately 3,000 abortions that take place every single day in America. Of course, those 1,095,000 lost lives per year don’t make for nearly as good Facebook fodder or memes as one lion in Africa. Where is the backlash over that? Isn’t a human life just as important as an animal’s life?
That’s the danger in not standing for something. When we jump on a national bandwagon like Cecil the Lion with blinders on and decide not to look back, we so easily become prone to play the role of the sheep. And when we do that, we become prey – quickly forgetting that a lion can actually, you know, kill a human being. That may be a bit of a graphic metaphor, but it is food for thought that we need to always be mindful to look at the bigger picture.