It’s time to bring back the old adage “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”
-Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott-
Two delicate matters cannot be handled carelessly in our country: first, politics, particularly the election of the President and Vice President. Second, religion. However, it is more harmful if the two are combined. In a few days, our country will pick a President and Vice President to govern it for the next five years. However, disagreements among supporters have persisted for months. Tensions emerge due to differing choices for the candidates each individual loves and dislikes. Almost every day, numerous WhatsApp groups are loaded with news videos from the mass media, including YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, containing support for politicians they favor or, conversely, negative information about candidates they dislike. I am intending to write about tensions due to differences in political choices in this post. But to be honest, I repeatedly write-delete-write, and so on because there is a worry that if I write without a strict filter it will be considered offensive to certain parties, which could put me in a “some situations”.
The tension of this year’s election is extraordinary. I wanted to write about it here, but in the end, I decided not to tell the details in this post (you can search for it on the internet). But I can feel what Lukianoff and Schlott wrote in this book, especially regarding Cancel Culture. Lukianoff and Schlott explain that Cancel Culture “should be understood not as an isolated phenomenon but rather as part of an embrace of cheap argument tactics that rely on ad hominem arguments, which are attacks on a person rather than the point they are making. More precisely, Cancel Culture allows people to dismiss their ideological opponents without refuting their arguments, while also intimidating anyone who might make that same point.” Cancel Culture is so dangerous and destructive to social life. Lukianoff and Schlott stated that culture had destructive power. Cancel Culture has changed lives, ruined careers, crippled businesses, slowed the generation of knowledge, destroyed trust in institutions, and thrown us into an ever-worsening culture war. We should see it as part of the dysfunctional behavior that individuals in our society engage in to fight and compete for power, position, and dominance.
The emergence of Cancel Culture has had the impact of hampering freedom of expression, silencing opposing points of view, and fostering an environment of fear and self-censorship. Cancel Culture, empowered by social media platforms and a more politicized society has stifled intellectual conversation and opened up the exchange of ideas. Cancel culture ultimately undermines the norms of free discourse, critical thinking, and intellectual development. Realizing how destructive Cancel Culture is, Lukianoff and Schlott champion the idea of fighting Cancel Culture and promoting cognitive maturity which they call the Adulthood American mind. Adulthood is needed to build civilization. They explained, “If we want a society that can build up, rather than just tear down, institutions, people, and ideas, we must promote a way of arguing that rejects childishness and helps the best ideas to rise.”
Lukianoff and Schlott intend to bring back full maturity in the social system of society which dares to express opinions and accepts differences of opinion. They explain, “The American mind’s adulthood is a cultural state in which we do not avoid unpleasant talks, do not hide embarrassing information, and do not sugarcoat harsh realities. It is a location where we are trusted to reach the proper conclusion without being rescued from ourselves. It entails adopting a firm stance and admitting that knowing the world for what it is preferable to be fed cozy lies by authority.” Lukianoff dan Scholtt invites readers, of course American citizens, to “Re-embracing Free Speech Culture requires a return to our old folk wisdom —”to each his own,” “everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” “never judge a book by its cover,” “attack the argument, not the person,” and “always take seriously the possibility you might be wrong.”
Lukianoff and Scholtt offer an alternative solution that is quite interesting in my opinion, namely raising the anti-canceler generation. There are five stages in it, namely: 1. Revive the golden rule: Young people should be reminded of the age-old adage: Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you; 2. Encourage free, unstructured time: letting go wisely is critical to making kids resilient and antifragile—and therefore key to raising an anti-canceler; 3. Emphasize the importance of friendships: parents have to teach their children the importance of being a true friend and maintaining genuine connections 4. Teach kids about differences: Preparing young people for diverse reality and fostering a mutual appreciation for the importance of being tolerant of ideological differences is critical to their future success in navigating interpersonal relationships and disagreements; 5. Practice what you preach: The best thing parents can do to counter the cancel culture’s influences is to lead by example and practice what we preach—whether that’s in public or at the family dinner table.
I strongly appreciate Lukianoff and Scholtt’s vision of restoring freedom of opinion and having the guts to embrace differing viewpoints while adhering to the principles of mature and responsible argumentation and discussion. Differing opinions must not be inhibited, excluded, or persecuted. However, there are indicators of differing social standards in the Indonesian setting compared to the American context. However, in my context, freedom of thought appears to have gone too far, since many people utilize ad hominem arguments in debate. Meanwhile, many people are concerned about being hunted and prosecuted without due process if their beliefs are perceived as disagreeable by certain parties. But above all that I then remembered a Bible verse that says, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5.37. RSV)
 Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott, The Canceling of the American Mind, (New York NY: Simon & Schuster, 2023), 30.
 Ibid, 9.
 Ibid 295-296.
 Ibid, 305.
 Ibid, 306.
 Ibid, 219-231.