Sam Radford

July 19, 2021

Max vs. Lewis (AKA despair at human nature)

Though I don’t watch much Formula 1 racing nowadays, I do still follow it. And, since we’re currently having to isolate after my youngest daughter tested positive for Covid, I was able to watch the British Grand Prix yesterday.

What a race!

(Quick aside: before you switch off thinking this is a sports post, it isn’t a sports post – that’s just the backdrop...)

Before even a lap was complete, the top two drivers – Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen –  had collided and Max ended up crashing into the safety barriers at 180 miles an hour. Thankfully he was fine.

Lewis had a bit of car damage but was able to continue, albeit with a 10 second penalty after the race stewards considered him the more culpable driver for the accident.

Despite that set back, Lewis went on to win the race.

Because of the the crash, social media blew up in response. ’Team Lewis’ and ’Team Max’ went to war. It was either entirely Max’s fault or entirely Lewis’s fault. There wasn’t an ounce of rationality on display! 

And I allowed sarcasm to get the better of me, tweeting:

Love how rational F1 fans are when there’s an incident. Everyone just calmly looks at the evidence, shuts down their biases towards favourite team/driver, and reaches a fair, sensible conclusion. So encouraged by human nature. 😉 #BritishGP

Honestly, I was deeply frustrated reading the comments. The anger, vitriol, hatred – it was incredible. And, predictably, less than a week after three of England’s black footballers were targeted, Lewis was subjected to a barrage of racist abuse.

I get that social media doesn’t represent all humans – and I need to remember that more often – but it sure is a shocking insight into the worst of, at the very least, a segment of humanity.

Why does the other person have to be evil? Why does the other team have to be the enemy? Why is it all so black and white, win-lose, us versus them? It’s dispiriting.

And, as the title to this post suggests, it’s easy to despair at ‘human nature’.

But, here’s the thing: I don’t think behaving so aggressively on social media is human nature. ’Nature’ implies that it’s natural, normal even.

But what we’re seeing is not natural; it’s a distortion of what’s natural. 

This kind of behaviour is what happens when people become disconnected from who they truly are. 

Social media doesn’t make people behave this way. It’s merely made it easier than ever for people to let the world see how dark and dualistic human souls can be.

How do we help people move beyond this dualism? How do we help people reconnect with their true selves? 

The closer we are to love, the closer we are to our true selves.

But there lies the problem. Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is this: 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ (Emphasis mine.)

I’m convinced that ugly behaviour towards others is almost always an outward manifestation of ugly feelings towards ourselves. 

Loving others starts with loving ourselves. 

But, because we don’t love ourselves, we try to feel better about ourselves but lashing out at others. It’s ugly. It’s dangerous. And it shows no signs of letting up.

Which leaves a critical question: How can we help people learn to love themselves?

Answers on a postcard...

–Sam

Got some thoughts on this? I’d love to hear from you – do hit reply or drop me a note.

@samradford | samradford.com