Every totalitarian regime that has ever existed has routinely practiced mass-murder. It is an inevitability of totalitarianism that innocent people will die. We don’t need another experiment.
I’ll introduce this opinion piece by clarifying that I am, at heart, a Libertarian. But I am the practical sort, so actively espouse the philosophy of classical liberalism. Sadly, I see an ever-growing trend, online especially, for extremist ideologies, and it scares me.
There has been a very worrying normalisation, of sorts, of far-right ideological thinking, which is so obviously dangerous that I thought we had closed the book on it, whilst at the same time there has been an equally worrying rise in far-left activity. The far-left often say that they oppose the far-right, despite behaving as deplorably as them, and espousing an equally dangerous ideology.
It is simply a fact that in order to ensure compliance and achieve the stated, pre-determined, objectives of their ideology, totalitarian regimes must control their populations. They can only do this by using violence or the threat or violence. Whether left-wing or right-wing, extremists can wield submachine guns equally as well as one another.
If we are going to avoid the atrocities of the past, decent people must stand-up to extremists, whether they are right-wing or left-wing, and stomp-out these murderous ideologies through peaceful intervention and radical social exclusion.
Below, I advance an argument, detailing my thoughts on why left-wing extremists, who tend to get a free pass from most people who occupy the centre-ground, are equally as dangerous as their right-wing counter-parts, and possibly more so.
(from left to right, top to bottom) Joseph Stalin, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union / Adolf Hitler, former Führer of Germany / Mao Zedong, former Chairman of the Communist Party of China / Benito Mussolini, former Duce of Italy / Kim Il-sung, the Eternal President of North Korea
A little over a year ago, I got the life-changing news that I had cancer. Since then, our lives have been turned upside down. I say our, because through-out this entire journey, my wife has been by my side every step of the way; and it has been every bit as hard on her as it has been on me. I will never be able to thank her enough for all she has done for me.
This last year has been the toughest year of my life, for more reasons than the fact I have been fighting cancer. I won’t lie, there have been times when I just wanted to, and there continues to be times when I just want to, curl-up and die; to give-up on it all.
I have not been dealing very well with life. My health continues to be poor, both physically and mentally, my career is in pieces, and my entire life seems like it is on pause, and I don’t feel like I have any control over it.
Despite all this, I am trying to stay strong; for my wife, my family, my friends, and myself. A friend told me recently, that what they’ve always admired about me is my “authenticity”. It was never a quality I tried to nurture, and I guess that’s the point, isn’t it?
Anyway, their words started me thinking. How can I reconnect with the “authentic me”? I’ve really struggled with this, because I feel like the last 15-months, or so, have stolen a ginormous piece of me. They have rendered me feeling useless, weak, and dependent. I’ve been living in a mentally and physically exhausting prison of my own discontent.
Things I used to be able do in a few hours can take me days and even weeks. I’m in constant pain. I’m always cranky, fatigued, and frustrated. I’m frustrated because I forget things, loads of things, there are days I feel like I am demented.
Every waking second is spent in a haze of depression, and the littlest things make me anxious in a big way. And all of this scares the life out of me. I’m not the person I was on the 24th of February 2019, the last day I felt “healthy”; the last day I felt like “me”.
One thing I have been able to have some control over are my words. And although I cannot muster them in quite as fervent a way as I once could, I can still try.
As a journalist, words occupy a special place in my life. I love language and always have. When I was a child I would write short stories, just for fun. And as a teenager, I wrote plays and poems.
Recently, I decided to rekindle that love. Not in a professional capacity, as I had been doing before I got sick; but as a ‘born-again’ hobby. I decided to start writing ‘the book’. You know the one, the one we all have ‘in us’.
I’m not deluded enough to think anyone would ever want to read ‘the book’, but part of me feels as though I need to write it. I need to write it to come to terms with what I have experienced, who I have become, and ultimately to discover where I might be going. It’s the one therapy I feel might actually help me recover.
I have accepted that I am never going to be the person I was before getting cancer. I don’t know if this will be for the better or the worse, but it is the reality. I have to forge a new path in life, and this is a very intimidating prospect for me, right now, but I have to do it.
A few paragraphs
Below are the first few paragraphs I have been able to put together over the last few weeks. It’s not the finest bit of reflective writing that has ever been produced, nor does it have the best grammar, syntax, or spelling. But it is authentic, and most importantly, it’s a start.
In these few paragraphs, I detail the days that surrounded my cancer diagnosis. It wasn’t easy to relive it all, but it is something I have to do. I have to feel the pain, the fear, and do it anyway. It has helped me, at least a little bit, to come to terms with what has been a life-changing experience.
I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been there for me since I got sick. I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world to have such a dedicated wife, loving family, caring friends, and a supportive community. The thousands of messages of support; cards; calls; and texts, have all been of great comfort to me.
My thanks, too, go to the healthcare professionals who have cared for me since I became ill. Society has owed you a great debt, for some time now. Your continued hard-work and dedication during the current crisis has reminded many of your importance. I know I will never forget all you have done for me and I hope a grateful nation never does either.
And finally, thanks for reading. Click “read more” below to see the few paragraphs I have managed to horse-out.
Today is the first ‘okay’ day I’ve had since starting chemo. It’s day 13 of the first 21-day cycle. To say it’s been a rough week would be an understatement, but, having said that, I was expecting it to be worse. I’m very thankful for the good hours and am looking forward to a few good days ahead.
Over the last few days, I’ve spent a lot of time, in between naps, trawling through social media. When I was going a mile-a-minute before getting sick, I only ever paid a passing glance to what happened on Twitter and Facebook. I never really engaged too much. However, the last week has been a deep-dive into what is a twisted world of so called ‘social’ engagements. I’ve discovered that there are a lot of people who are deeply unwell: I mean, there are some seriously deranged people on social media.
Aside from the delusions being suffered by many commentators, particularly since we are in the silly election season, I’ve also witnessed some truly horrendous engagements. The vast majority of the indecent exchanges are engaged in by anonymous trolls, which gives them all the cover they need, to be truly detestable human-beings.
The most common shows of indecency can be witnessed when, for the most part, anonymous/thinly veiled accounts attack people who are clearly of a fragile state-of-mind and have said something which is clearly insane. Often, the virtue-signalling trolls will, in a single tweet or post, 1. Point out that someone is clearly mentally-unwell, and 2. Mock and deride them for being mentally unwell. How is that virtuous?
If you ask me, attacking people who are mentally-unwell, in what are often vicious and potentially violent ways; is simply sick. It’s indecent. The very people who claim to be compassionate and virtuous go out of their way to publicly deride people who are clearly not in control of the faculties. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m as much of a hypocrite here as some of the people who I am now criticising. Many-a-time I launched into an unbridled attack on someone on social media, generally in responses to them attacking me, but sometimes I’ve initiated what were unbecoming engagements. However, now that I’ve realised the error of my ways, I’m going to try to be a better person. And that’s the nub of my point here, we all get a pass for being passionate about something, but once the error of your ways has been realised you have to change.
The world is a horrible place at the best of times. There is so much evil and vitriol pumping through society, even good people get trapped in these cynical-cyclones, particularly on social media. We really do need to try harder, all of us, to be considerate of what other people might be going through. If someone is saying something on social media which is so clearly “insane”, then I would argue that attacking them and telling them to “get help”, is not a solution to a problem but it is a cheapening of humankind. It’s nasty, unbecoming, and is truly horrible to witness.
There needs to be a c-change in how people, on every side of arguments, engage in public discourse. There needs to be an assertion of decency, compassion, and sanity in the narratives we engage in. There is enough hate in the world and people who are generally good should not be adding to the sum total of hate in the world. Good people have a moral duty to debate in a decent manner. We must behave in a way which works to reduce the sum total of human suffering in the world, not add to it. The anonymity and protection of a screen on social media obviously brings the worst out in some people but it shouldn’t. We are evolved enough beings to know the difference in right and wrong. Honestly, if a wild animal did some of the things people do online, you’d chastise the poor animal and wonder what was wrong with it.
We can’t continue to make excuses for ourselves and others, especially when they behave is a way which is, essentially, sub-human. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard of accountability and strive for civility, not controversy.
So, please, if you are reading this; try to be a little better on social media (and in life in general) next time you engage with someone with whom you disagree with. You might not agree with them, in fact, you might disagree with them on the most fundamental of levels and they might be a deplorable being, but that’s no excuse for you to reduce your own humanity. It’s no excuse to stop being the best person you can be. Be the change you want to see, and start by forcing yourself to be a better person, just a little bit, everyday.
Emmett Corcoran is a journalist based in Strokestown, Co Roscommon.
My good friend and former colleague Phelim O'Neill, of Phelim O'Neill Solicitors and Harringtons Solicitors, has launched a new website: gardastationsolicitors.ie. The new site is dedicated to providing legal advice in Garda stations.
Good luck to Phelim with the new project.