According to a recent article by Matt Bai, ((Bai, Matt, The scourge of small-money politics. Yahoo News, Aug. 7, 2014. Available: http://news.yahoo.com/the-scourge-of-small-money-politics-083659479.html)) it’s not only the influential members of society that we have to worry about. We have to worry about ourselves. Apparently, if you get enough of us together, we can be influential in all the wrong ways. Bai was talking about small money in politics, specifically the small contributions solicited by political parties on the Internet, but we see similar problems when money is not a factor. In the ‘conversation’, the negative influences are more varied and less predictable.
In the 2010 documentary about Wikipedia, Truth in Numbers, it is suggested that Wikipedia’s problems are due to its founder’s inadequate education and background. I question that conclusion. I don’t think a person needs a proper education and background to carry on a productive conversation. There are other things more important, like honest intent.
One of the books in the Mutiny on the Bounty trilogy, Pitcairn’s Island, reveals what can happen in the absence of honest intent. Rather than working together to build a community, the mutinous crew members spent their time fighting with each other. Finally, after causing much suffering, one of them admitted that he always knew he was wrong—he just wanted his own way. At the time I thought this was the epitome of wickedness. I still do. But I think it happens more than we realize.
At this time the world is descending into another quagmire of hostility. We are told there are good reasons for it, but the sad truth is that some people don’t know the difference between a life-and-death situation and a game. They don’t care who they hurt as long as they win. They think they are invincible.