Dragging the Shark
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on August 8, 2017

That shark video is tantalizing.

It wasn’t the brutality of four young men mirthfully dragging a shark behind their speeding boat only to spread its shredded body over social media. It wasn’t the naked viciousness appealing to our prurient, taboo shadow sides.

That video offered all of us an invitation to join the mob of snarling dogs hell-bent on punishing, shaming and threatening. When it comes to reinforcing our fragile egos, these fishermen were freebies, and we joined the pile on.

Resist. Resist. Resist.

Mobs are dragnets.  It’s tough to decline the sanctimonious, righteous, superior and so, so right party invitation. Attend a different party with a theme of Know Thyself.  

  1. Respond with love. Always.

Shame beat downs are rarely successful. The more people are violently humiliated, the more they dig in their heels, certain of their victimization rather than their crimes.

There are three possibilities:  The mob’s targets don’t believe they did wrong.  Or, they knew it was wrong, and they took pleasure inflicting pain.  Or, they knew it was wrong, they enjoyed inflicting pain and it didn’t matter because the rules don’t apply to them.

There is no incentive for people who already live in this hell to embrace more perdition.

Regardless of the thought process, these people are lost, unmindful, and disconnected from the wholeness defining spiritual beings.  People practice what they’ve learned, regardless of the source.

How much love you can offer the despised and the marginalized, especially those despised and marginalized as a consequence of dark deeds, indicates your spiritual fitness.

  1. Hypocrisy check.

We all drag sharks.

Our consumer habits stoke climate change accelerating mass extinction.  Our sprawl displaces wildlife. Our Standard American Diets fund the torture of factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Be real. Be fair.

  1. Beware of trivial distinctions.

The mob circled again around five Florida teens who failed to offer assistance as they watched a man drown.

Philosopher Peter Singer’s famed ethical dilemma, The Shallow Pond and the Envelope, remains relevant.

Singer suggested you imagine seeing a child drowning in a pond.  Few would dispute that common decency demands you leap into the water to save the child, cost of replacing your waterlogged shoes be damned.  Yet, when we receive fundraising letters in the mail, we cavalierly toss the letters and, by extension, those who would benefit, into the trash.

Singer argues the two scenarios are ethically identical.

But Singer doesn’t go far enough. Somehow, it has become acceptable to deny people healthcare because they are poor, to refuse aid to refugees fleeing war, to lock the golden door to the tired and poor yearning to breathe free.

These people aren’t waving; they’re drowning.

Mass shaming and mob threats when not tempered by self-exploration feed the aggressive and violent frenzy eating us alive.  This collective practice has jumped the shark.