Thursday, March 25, 2010

"The line of grace now has to be horizontal"

Before Glenn Beck singlehandedly poured gasoline on his career and set it on fire, Van Jones was Obama's Green Jobs Czar.* Now, after being drummed out of the executive branch for the sin of, well, having a past wherein he said and did things, he's moved on. But he gave a very interesting interview to Grist. A couple of paragraphs really jumped out at me:

It used to be, as you went through these stages in your life, you could go to the next town and start over. The only person you were accountable to besides yourself was, if you were a person of faith, God. The line of grace was vertical, between you and your creator. Now, in this age of YouTube and Google, all of us are leaving digital bread crumbs behind of the person we used to be. Anything you do or say, some silly thing you did at a college party if somebody had a cell-phone camera, can be seen by everybody, forever. You can know more than you ever wanted to know about pretty much anybody.

It requires more wisdom of society. The line of grace now has to be horizontal. We have to learn how to forgive each other and extend a certain amount of empathy as we all grow up in front of each other. At some point, there'll be enough people who have had these "gotcha" experiences, and we'll hit a tipping point. We'll have a different level of tolerance. But it's too early. We're still too new to this, we don't have the language, customs, and rituals to be able to handle all this stupid stuff we can learn about each other.

I'm not hopeful about the prospects of developing the language and rituals. When everything you do is etched into ones and zeros, your whole past becomes, well, present. If anyone holds a grudge against another person, they can find plenty of fuel around to feed their discontent. If someone wants to tarnish a reputation, Google will lead them right to whatever they need.

If we cannot forget, are we even capable of forgiving? Maybe forgetting is a critical part of the forgiveness process.

Tired. Need to think on this. Byes.

* Technically a made-up title bestowed on him by the media.

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