The Inextinguishable Flame

Anyone who has been the target of online bullying knows that in the new public forum created by the Internet knows the traditional social norms that typically govern in-person exchanges don’t apply. Whereas in a face-to-face encounter most would act with a modicum of civility, the very same people might not hesitate to unleash a torrent of hatefulness when hiding behind a pseudonym or while commenting online.

To me this proves little other than the fact that bullies are in fact cowards. The well-worn social conventions of public discourse have evolved over time to tame the beastly side of men, but the relatively new pathway of online communication is the modern equivalent of the Wild West. It is an uncivilized and potentially dangerous frontier generally unsafe for children and the faint of heart.

Just as there were those who contributed to the civilization that we now enjoy, a world in which most can enjoy a life free of senseless bullying, I hope that over time the Internet will be conditioned more heavily by the fundamental compulsion to civility that resonates in the heart of every child on earth. Adults may turn their backs in this inner drive, but the surge of decency through children is an inescapable reminder of the natural state.

Human decency will always reemerge, no matter how ugly and distorted things might become on the surface at any given point in history. Wars, cruelty, despotism or even the mundane emotional outbursts that flare up between people veil human decency, but respect is intrinsic to the human soul, if not to the spirit of life itself. It is the inextinguishable flame, for it emanates from the very core of each one, from a place that is untouchable by human insensitivity, abuse or disrespect.

6 thoughts on “The Inextinguishable Flame

  1. kol

    I love what you are saying here with respect to the core of decency in humanity. Bullying certainly is the act of cowards, envy, insecurity and hate. Even in the midst of incivility on most online forums, there are those who stand up for and express what is right. For those blogs or other online venues that used as a platform to malign others, they get old and for anyone who can see clearly, are not worth a grain of salt.

  2. Carmen

    What one writes or says about another has seldom been limited in human history, unless one happened to be King, Emperor, Dictator, etc. as the case might be. When one was threatened with losing one’s head, it helped to control one’s tongue. But what is believed by another, will show the spirit of the reader, the listener as much as it does the writer. If one can not control the source, perhaps it would benefit us to simply control our belief or response. That also reflecting each soul’s growth, or lack thereof. Do we grow to our greatest current potential each day? What you call the “inextinguishable flame”, is it not our highest selves? If we would remember to give a sense of reverence each to the other what marvelous changes could we bring to this earth, what healing!

  3. Coco

    In Dr. Victor Frankl’s book “Mans Search For Meaning” he discussed his observation of this decency that some had that others didn’t. He was in the most atrocious circumstances, a concentration camp prisoner. He believed decency was a direct result of our feeling of meaningfulness. I love this quote that he felt described why some people find meaning no matter what the circumstances, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.” His ultimate reminder was to build as a companion to the Statue of Liberty a statue of responsibility. His words, “Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” He often said that even within the narrow boundaries of the concentration camps he found only two races of men to exist: decent and unprincipled ones. These were to be found in all classes, ethnicities, and groups. I think I’d say that statement applies to the Internet as well.

  4. Chuck Reddick

    I learned a long time ago to not pay attention to those who stood behind crowds (gangs and now the internet for example) but instead pay attention to those who had the courage of their convictions to stand up and be counted. We make choices in our lives and two of those choices are 1)who to listen to and 2)what to stand for. I have noted that those who want to do something of value with their lives make the decision to ignore the sad whining of those who are cowards and negative about life and instead listen to (be influenced by) those who focus on adding value to the lives of others.

    The internet is simply the latest form for bullies. However, hopefully most of us choose to ignore the negative stuff that revolves around lies and deceit and instead pay attention to those things that offer substance and inspiration such as your daily blog Gregg.

  5. Steve V

    Let the flame increase on earth as each of knows and expresses that which is right and true. Your words deeply touch my heart today. Thank you.

  6. Joy

    There is an old saying that goes something like this “What has your heart has you”. If we give our energy to all the distructive negativity displayed on the Internet, that is what starts to governs our lives. Their is no getting away from this fact, and consequently we are drawn increasingly into union with those distructive and cowardly spirits, until one eventually loses one’s ability to discern. It is a very slippery slope and worth avoiding at all costs.

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