Cancel Culture: The New Scarlet Letter
Do we want to be more inclusive by doing the opposite?
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” — Mahatma Gandhi
In the novel, The Scarlett Letter, Hester Prynne is a woman who has an affair and gets pregnant. When people in her town find out, they shame her and make her wear a Scarlet Letter “A” to identify her as an adulterer.
This was a way of publicly humiliating her and punishing her for breaking the social norms of the time.
Today, we have our version of a Scarlet Letter: Cancel Culture.
Cancel Culture is when someone is publicly shamed and ostracized for their views or actions. It’s a way of punishing people for breaking today’s social norms.
Just like in The Scarlett Letter, Cancel Culture can be used to humiliate and punish people publicly. And like Hester Prynne, many people subjected to Cancel Culture feel like they have been branded with a Scarlet Letter.
While Cancel Culture may seem like an excellent way to hold people accountable for their actions, it often does more harm than good.
When someone is canceled, they often lose their job, friends, and social standing. This can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and even suicide.
So before you jump on the bandwagon, think about its consequences on the person or group you’re trying to cancel. Is it worth it?
How to Live by the Scarlett Letter’s Lessons
The Scarlet Letter is a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne that tells the story of a woman ostracized by her community for committing adultery.
It is often considered one of the first great American novels, and it has been translated into many languages.
The Scarlet Letter teaches us that sinning doesn’t make you a bad person, and it doesn’t have to control your life.
The Scarlet Letter is an allegorical novel, which means it has symbolic meaning. The Scarlet Letter refers to Hester Prynne’s adultery. It symbolizes her strength, as she lives with the letter on her chest for years without complaint.
The novel also teaches us that love and forgiveness are powerful forces to overcome obstacles.
While the lessons of The Scarlet Letter may seem old-fashioned, they are still relevant today, maybe more than ever.
A Story of Growth, Shame, and Redemption
The Scarlet Letter is a story of growth, shame, and redemption. Hester Prynne, the protagonist of the novel, has to deal with the consequences of her sin.
The story is set in a Puritan society where adultery is punishable by public humiliation and shaming. Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter “A” symbolizes her sin for all to see.
Even though Hester Prynne is humiliated, she does not let her scarlet letter define her. Throughout the novel, she grows as a person and becomes more than “the woman with the scarlet letter.”
The Scarlet Letter shows us that we can redeem ourselves even if we make mistakes.
Cancel Culture is a new form of public shaming. It often leads to the same consequences as the scarlet letter: job loss, social isolation, and depression.
If you find yourself tempted to cancel someone, remember the lessons of The Scarlet Letter:
Think about the long-term consequences.
Consider whether forgiveness is possible.
Don’t let hate control your life.
Becoming more inclusive by doing the opposite?
We want to be more inclusive and less puritan, but we have taken two steps back in some ways.
We now live in a world of cancel culture, the new scarlet letter. People are publicly shamed and humiliated for breaking social norms.
People do need to have consequences for their actions, and in some way, they always do. The universe is fair; we all have what we deserve. But in human justice, we also want to punish people with our rules. That’s fair too.
But how does someone earn forgiveness? There has to be a way, or we are a bunch of hypocrites.
Everyone makes mistakes, but those mistakes do not define who we are.
The answer is love. Love will always find a way to forgive. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it is possible.
I know it’s challenging to fathom loving someone who has wronged us or someone we love. But if we want to live in an inclusive world, we need to try.
As Gandhi said, we need to be the change we wish to see. And that starts with each one of us.
Cancel Culture has the potential to do more harm than good. Let’s take a look at how to avoid some of its pitfalls. Let’s try to be more inclusive and understanding instead of judgmental and punitive.
After all, we’re all human beings striving to do our best in this world. Aren’t we?