On the wrong side of history

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There have been several mentions in popular media and news outlets referring to the actions of several current people being on the wrong side of history. They might be right. They could also be wrong. It is important to remember that history will judge the actions of today based on the values of tomorrow. It is very easy to look down upon those who owned slaves in America or supported the Nazis in Germany. It is easy to say that we would have acted differently than the people of that era. It is easy to say that we would run into a burning building or give the last of our food to help someone else. It is an entirely different thing to actually act in such a manner. The generations to come are a fickle audience, with the benefit of hindsight and the presumption that they have learned from our mistakes. Those who have stood out as heroes in bygone eras have done so by acting practically in the present, with provisions for coming generations, and a keen internal compass allowing them to weather the barrage of the criticism and hardship in the present.

The opposite of the strong internal compass is the self-esteem crowdsourcing the current atmosphere of social media has created. This method exposes us to the buffets of the judgments of others and the swirling currents of popular opinion. Encouraging generations of exemplary human beings requires a resistance to popular opinion in deference to the internal compass. Crowdsourcing our self-esteem prevents the formation of this internal compass during the formative years and replaces it instead with a superficial morality and character that are based, not on hard-won beliefs and values, but on the positive and negative feedback of acquaintances who may or may not actually care. At the end of the day, at the end of your life, being on the right side of your social bubble, or even history, is far less important than being at peace that you are sailing in line with your compass.

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