Almost two decades ago I decided to take the leap into politics and run for Mayor of my hometown. I had made an earlier effort at the age of eighteen but that attempt was driven more by the energy of youth than an actual hope that I could affect change in my community. The year of my second and more serious attempt was 2000. As a person who was well-known through my community because of my lectures on paranormal/occult phenomena and conspiracy theories the campaign was sometimes a bit hyperbolic in nature. Alas, when the final votes had been counted I was not elected and I returned to my “normal” life investigating the unusual aspects of our seemingly shared reality.
One Particular Lecture
Within 12 months of my mayoral campaign America changed. On September 11th 2001 the United States was witness to horror unlike anything most had ever recognized to exist. That same year in October, a month later, I was scheduled to give a conspiracy lecture in downtown Detroit.
The venue was sold out. I was scheduled to speak for one hour and when that hour had expired I spoke for another 90 minutes. Only at the end of my lecture and during a Q& A session with the crowd was the topic of September 11th mentioned. A man in the audience stood up, approached the microphone and said, “Do you think the events of September 11th are part of a conspiracy?”
I told the man that I was unwilling to discuss, at length in public, the topic of 9/11 due to the recentness of events, the fluidity of history and most importantly; I would not discuss the event while people were still mourning the losses of loved one and recuperating in hospitals. My lecture ended and I returned home as satisfied as I could have been with a lecture.
Did I want to discuss the events of September 11th during that lecture? I did.
Did I discuss the events of September 11th during that lecture? I did not.
There would be time to talk about it, later, with perspective and after people had at least started the, unending, process of healing.
The beginning of a rational conspiracy theorist
My mentor, decades ago, instilled in me the calmness which is necessary when dealing with tragedy. When some terrible or world-shaking crisis took effect he would say, “If people are in the hospital, if someone is going to a funeral, keep your mouth shut and get busy doing the work of a historian. Collect and compile information so that an accurate, as unbiased history of events can be recorded. Speculate later, think deeply, honestly and remember that truth will be uncovered in time.”
There is more important work to be done. We need to take care of each other.
When confronted with political or societal happenings which seem to have curious, perhaps covert motives, the musings of the unseen hands of fate can wait until people are on the road toward healing. There is more important work to be done. We need to take care of each other. We need to be able to see events through eyes unclouded by the smoke of destruction.
Rush to Sludgement
We are obviously now living in a different time. Every person with an outrageous claim with a theory about “what really happened” about a specific event has been given voice to the entirety of the world. When there is a tragedy in this world, in this country, in your town it is only a matter of seconds before someone has uploaded a poorly constructed, error-ridden, misspelled YouTube video proclaiming their “inside insight” into the event.
In our rush to find the “real” answers we have forgotten that there are real people involved in these tragedies.
In our leap to disseminate “true” information we have leaped over true empathy for our fellow humans.
In our desire to be “first” with a theory, we’ve given into the desires of the worst parts of our second nature.
Demanding the truth is indeed something all human beings should do. But truth becomes more obscured when hidden beneath a garbage dump of ill-thought, immediate-response reactions.
When people are hurting, give them time to heal.
When people are mourning, give them time to cry.
Unfortunately the tragedies that happen will never go away… which means we have time to wait before we open our big mouths.