Zeitgeist — the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.
We are all victim of circumstance, let’s just call it like it is, our opinions and values are largely shaped by the spirit of the times. I’m sure everyone sincerely believes that they are on the right side of history only to find out later that they were misinformed, idiot-adherent, and hella unwitting, as new research, ideals, and values emerge. Its happened to the best of us, cheer up, you know now.
The greatest skill you could have is the ability to look outside of the zeitgeist and see things plainly for what they are.
This is an undervalued power.
Take the normalization of antebellum slavery as an example. The small fraction of White people who were able to see the cruelty in practice is amazing considering that owning and oppressing people based on their skin color was deeply ingrained in American culture. The enslavement of Black folks was scientifically rationalized, taught in schools, churches, homes — generations were bred, nurtured on racism, to denounce slavery was to go against the very essence of who you were.
The White folks who were able to see things differently, deciding to become abolitionists, assisting in breaking the law to free Black people, required they widen their lens, disrupt their own thinking, and forsake the only communities they’ve ever known — this is no small feat. I’d argue that the disestablishment of slavery would have taken far longer without the aberrant, once called extremist and radical, Caucasians who happened to see things differently.
Individuals who can see beyond the energy of a decade, of a time period, to form their own ethics and believed abstractions are the true leaders that the world needs.