This is perhaps obvious, but worth mentioning.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
The early suffragettes were ignored, ridiculed, attacked, and then won. At least, they won women the right to vote, even if the overall process of equality between the sexes is still ongoing.
WHAT ARE WE IGNORING, RIDICULING, OR ATTACKING TODAY?
So what are people ignoring, ridiculing, or attacking today?
The most obvious is people like Greta Thunberg. She is admired by many, but she also belittled, ridiculed, and attacked by people who don’t see or care about the big picture, and don’t want our civilization to shift and become more ecologically sustainable.
She is smart, her message is sober and grounded in reality (listen to the scientists), and she is getting attention, so of course she will be ridiculed and attacked.
We also see that the very real need for thorough systemic changes is ignored by the media, politicians, many scientists, and most people in general. In order to survive, we need our systems – economic, production, energy, transportation, and so on – to be aligned with ecological realities. It seems obvious, but it requires deep and profound changes in almost all areas of our lives, so most people seem to prefer to ignore it. They pretend this need is not here. They engage in the fantasy that small changes here and there will be sufficient.
It’s likely that as this need for profound systemic changes gains more traction, as it will, then this too will be ridiculed and attacked, until it’s eventually implemented.
What else is ignored, ridiculed, or attacked by the mainstream?
The rights of ecosystems and non-human species are largely ignored, with a few exceptions. There are some laws in place, although many of these are anthropocentric in nature and we use anthropocentric arguments to gain support.
As the idea of the rights of nature gains traction and we see more real-life examples, this too will be ridiculed and attacked. To the extent ecosystems and non-human species get legal rights and real political and legal representation, it will be seen as threatening to some, and they will use this familiar strategy to try to sideline it.
These are some of the large issues that involve Earth as a whole and all life.
There are also some smaller issues. For instance, ESP, reincarnation, and UFOs have been ignored and ridiculed for a while now by mainstream media, science, and much of the general public. As there is more solid research into these phenomena, and to the extent we find that there is something to these phenomena, it’s likely that this too will become more accepted and move into the mainstream.
WHY DO WE IGNORE, RIDICULE, AND ATTACK?
Why do we ignore, ridicule, and attack these ideas and social movements?
It’s easy to ignore. We may not know what’s happening. We may see it as insignificant. We may not think it will amount to anything.
We may ridicule for a few different reasons. It may be an intentional strategy to belittle, shame, and sideline an idea or movement. If we ridicule it, we don’t have to address the substance of the issue, and we may hope that others will hesitate in agreeing and joining.
It can also be a more unconscious reaction. We see something that’s unfamiliar and fringe, so ridiculing it makes us feel more normal and mainstream. The ideas may threaten our own familiar views and habits, and ridiculing allows us to not take a closer look.
The reason we may attack these movements is similar. Some feel that their interests or identities are threatened by the movement, and they see that they are gaining traction, so they attack it.
It’s good to be aware of these dynamics. If we are part of a social change movement, it helps us predict these responses, deal with them, and not be discouraged by it. If we are prone to react in these ways – ignoring, ridiculing, and attacking – it may give us pause and find another way to deal with it.
When we talk about these topics, it’s good to take a look at some underlying assumptions that may color how we see and approach them.
For a while, we had an idea of inevitable social progress in our culture, and it’s clearly not that simple.
Our ideas about what constitutes “progress” differ between people, eras, and cultures. And no long-term historical trend continues indefinitely.
Also, some social movements are ignored, ridiculed, attacked, and then accepted, and they are not exactly what we want to see if we value human rights, democracy, social justice, sustainability, and so on. The Nazi movement in the 1920s and ’30s Germany one example.
When we talk about the right side of history, we usually mean according to how we see it today. Suffragettes and abolitionists were on the right side of history since we today have voting rights for both sexes, we have abolished slavery, and both conform to our current values. So although I sometimes use the phrase myself, I am also aware it’s a slippery concept.