Boston Marathon1
Early reports indicate that the “religion of peace” may, once again, be behind the terrorist attacks in the United States. This is not confirmed, of course, but that hasn’t stopped the media-accusation-machine; libertarians blame the U.S. government (Alex Jones is screaming “false flag”), Republicans blame the Muslims (Erik Rush, FOX news correspondent, said that we should “kill them all”), liberals are blaming white supremacists, theists are blaming atheists (Westboro Baptist Church says “God sent the bombs”), and people all across Facebook are laughing, making memes, war-mongering, being generally racist, “readying their guns,” speculating wildly and believing every word they hear from everybody.

Meanwhile, and in addition to these events, a politically motivated bombing occurred in Iraq, killing 55 civilians who were waiting to vote. This is not an attempt to quantify human life, or to appear self-righteous — merely an observation on the amount of suffering and chaos we inflict on one another daily. Unquestionably, hundreds and thousands of others have died today also at the hands of human cruelty, and we will never know their names.

As humanists, we seek to express a message of hope, of enlightenment, of peace and unity, of love and respect for human life, of non-violence towards any living being; of equality for all. We urge others to embrace a cosmic perspective — to realize the folly of their conceits, to understand just how trivial are their disagreements. We believe, truly, in our hearts, that through empathy and education, humanity can change. That we can learn to love one another; to live and let live.

But for me, personally, there are days — today being one of them — where my disgust for humanity is simply overwhelming. Where the deliberate destruction of human life, and the primitive, tribalistic outrage that follows, serve as a catalyst to change my hope into hopelessness; where the horrors I see and read about every single day become more than just singular incidents — they morph into a collective, inescapable lens of cynicism, through which, where I once saw humanity, I now see an immovable wall of hatred, prejudice, irrationality and violence. I start to embrace the nihilism of my younger self, and I ask: “can we really change?”

Our society now is one of immediate sensation, constant stimulation — we are perpetually on a hair-pin trigger sensitivity, ready to explode at any given moment, over even the most insignificant of events. There is no longer any thought, feeling, contemplation, empathy, emotion — people just do. Reacting by default. Today I saw a reporter on television, a hint of giddy excitement in her voice, badger a Bostonian doctor with the question: “how many legs have you amputated?” I had to look away. This, to me, was infinitely more disturbing than the event itself.

Of course, we should never dismiss the heroes. There are many of them, especially today, and in the event of any tragedy. Incredible people sacrificing everything to help others — offering solace and comfort in any way they can. As comedian Patton Oswalt has pointed out in his now viral address: the good people outweigh the bad people. This is true. But human history dictates two things: that good people are reactionary — arriving only when provoked, and after the damage is done, and that beneath the veneer of the courageous heroes of every movement and every tragedy lies still that hulking, uneducated, insidious, and volatile mass of humanity, waiting to rear its monstrous head yet again. And it will. It always has.

These musings are worthless, ultimately, and I am ashamed to say that I’m sitting behind a keyboard, safe, and criticizing, while others are currently in a state of unimaginable pain and sorrow — and while others still, better people than I, are doing whatever they can to help. Understandably, some will be annoyed by this post. Forgive me. We all have to vent, I suppose, and it just so happens that I have a Facebook page with which to do it.

I still believe in this movement; in humanism, education, and activism — but I would be lying if I said that my confidence does not waiver daily.

What do you think? Can humanity ever change? Can we transcend our natural condition? Or will we be forever a slave to the violence, prejudice, and irrationality that is inherent in our DNA?