How Words Have POWER!

⚠️ YOUR WORDS HAVE POWER!!! ⚠️
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I recently watched a Danish movie called “The Hunt” starring Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royale”). 🎬 And it was ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATING! 😔
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No, the film wasn’t bad at all! It was actually a great film! It just was not an easy film to watch. 😫 It’s a film that asks some really tough questions about the power of mob mentality and mass hysteria. 👥
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It shows how groups of people will jump to rash assumptions and conclusions about someone rather than gathering all the facts. 🤔
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With our society’s current Outrage Culture where feelings and justice can matter more than facts and accuracy, this film points out a problem still needing to be addressed. 👍
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The movie tells the story about a quiet man living in a small rural community in Denmark. 🇩🇰 He’s recently become a preschool teacher, has a small set of drinking buddies, and has found a new girlfriend. After recently separating from his wife, his life is starting to look uphill. 😊
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But then a lewd lie is made up about him. At first, it seems absurd to the man that people actually believe the lie rather than him, a person who the community has known for a very long time. But the lie takes on a life of its own. 😲
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Soon the whole community has jumped to the worst conclusions about him. He is fired from his job. His new girlfriend leaves him. His best friend shuns him. He is physically assaulted trying to shop in the local store. 👊 Suddenly, even more lies are spread. He is eventually charged by the police, but all the charges are soon dropped because of no evidence. Nevertheless, the acts by the community escalate into greater threats and physical violence against him. 💥
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Remember: we are aware as an audience member this man is 100% innocent and all the rumors and continuing allegations made against him are 100% false. 👍 Yet, everything that happens to him in the film started with a single lie. Even the person who told the original lie eventually admits she was lying. But even then, she is not believed! 😲
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The community would rather hold onto the lies of this false narrative than face the fact they were condemning and harming an innocent man. 👤
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It’s a devastating film, not just seeing this man’s life crumble, but also in thinking how eerily similar issues like these echo in our own society. How often have we heard someone make an accusation online or in the news and we automatically assumed it was 100% true? 🤔 How often have we not taken the time to remember there’s 2 sides to every story and didn’t gather all the facts before coming to a conclusion? I have, so I’m not pointing fingers here. I’ve done it too! 👍
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And don’t get me wrong, some accusations do in fact turn out to be true. We find out the details, we gather all the evidence, and we confirm its validity or not. 👍 But there’s also others, like with this man, where accusations turn out to be grossly false. Despite them being false, the damage has already been done: an innocent person’s reputation is left for dead, and no repercussions are to be had for the original accuser. 🤷‍♂️
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In the Court of Law it is “innocent until proven guilty”. But in the Court of Public Opinion it has become “guilty until proven innocent”. The problem is we don’t want to follow the same path the characters in the play “The Crucible” did and start accusing our neighbors we dislike of being witches. 👉
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It is these false cries where a person’s life can be ruined based on accusations and narratives which aren’t true. It is these false accusations which do a great disservice to the accusations which are in fact true. 🎯
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It’s why I continue to emphasize it’s SO IMPORTANT whenever we hear or read anything that we separate the Facts from the Story Created Around the Facts. Take a news story: you don’t read 100% facts. You read a story which is set around a set of facts the journalist provides you. You can read more in my post here: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156091492785964&id=509935963
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But I’m not here to dwell on the problem. I want to provide solutions as well. There is hope! 😁
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📌 Drop your cynicism for skepticism. Cynicism jumps to predetermined conclusions about people regarding self interest and malicious intent. Skepticism starts from nothing. Cynicism wants the truth to be black and white, clear as day. Skepticism wants the truth to be whatever the truth is, no matter its complexity.
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📌 Question your emotions. Our emotions filter our decision-making. When we’re angry, we’re more likely to lash out and throw out accusations by the handful. One question to ask yourself: Does this emotion serve me in the present moment? Be sure you are using your emotions and not letting your emotions use you. Develop your emotional intelligence.
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📌 Consider our common humanity. People make mistakes. People say things they regret. People lie. People mature and aren’t the same people they were decades ago. And if you can’t relate to any of those things, I’d ask if you were a human being. I don’t say this to justify what someone does. It’s to acknowledge our shared humanity with other people. It helps gives you a clearer focus on the situation, supplemented with the Superpower of Empathy.
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📌 Be wary of group mentality. There’s a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people are in groups, where they collectively become a microcosm of shared beliefs and actions. Individuality gets lost and people conform to whatever the group does. It’s the reason a group of harmless people can start a riot, even if others never went in with the intention to.
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While it’s easier to summarize a person’s entire existence based on narratives and a few labels, you simultaneously box that person into a Filter of Perception of which everyone else is now going to be seeing that person.
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The big question though: Is it really true? 👤
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There’s a reason Don Miguel Ruiz had one of his Four Agreements be: Be Impeccable With Your Word. Words have the power to create as well as destroy. The problem is they’re more often today used to destroy than for any form of creation. 👍
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That man in the film, no matter how many times he could say he was innocent, could no longer be seen the same way again by his community because of the labels laid upon him, despite there being no evidence at all for the labels. 😔
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But here’s the catch: No one is played in the film for a caricature. Everyone has reasons for why they do what they do. Like the characters who spread the lie, they genuinely believe others need to be aware because their fears says the lie is true. Their collective need to believe something did in fact happen overrode their ability to critically think. 👥
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That’s why developing our self-awareness is so important, so we don’t give into our irrational emotions and simply go along with the crowds. Because at times the crowd will be dead wrong. As the philosopher Kierkegaard said: “The crowd is untruth.” 👍
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Of course, there are people in the world who have in fact done bad things. There are people who are guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt and should be rightfully held accountable for their actions. I’m not denying that. Justice should be rightfully served. 💯
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But this post today was about addressing the elephant in the room. 🐘
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📍 This post is not about the thirst for social justice but about the injustice that happens to the innocent because of this thirst.
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📍 This post is not about accusations but about the negative consequences for a society where falsehoods can easily be thrown around without repercussion or personal responsibility taken on any side.
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It produces a culture of victimhood, one which a civil society crumbles under because of the very thing it continues reinforcing: blame. 🤬
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But again, I also have hope. I believe with any form of destruction there must also come creation. I wholeheartedly reject nihilism. I continue looking for the best in humanity because more often than not I will tend to find it. Because I believe what will save us from ourselves…is our best selves. ❤️