From climate change to tobacco harm reduction, the world faces threats requiring collaboration and innovation. If we are to progress, we cannot allow division to overshadow opportunity. We must open our minds to alternative perspectives and work together to find solutions.
Marian Salzman, Senior Vice President, Global Communications, Philip Morris International*
“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”
Sir Isaac Newton’s assessment of the state of humankind four centuries ago continues to ring true. Worse, division and dissent are increasingly apt to turn into hate—an emotion that blinds us to the merits of opposing arguments and stops us from finding common ground on which to build solutions.
Globally, hate is on the rise. Most respondents (70 percent) to a new international survey commissioned by Philip Morris International (PMI) reported that the level of hate and hate speech in their countries has increased in the past two years. And 4 in 10 respondents said they encounter hateful speech, either online or in person, at least once a week.
Challenging the spread of hate to foster civil conversations for positive change
While alarming, this trend should not surprise us. Our modern culture of news consumption too often cages us within echo chambers self-constructed to affirm our beliefs and push out conflicting data and perspectives. Misinformation and disinformation abound, stoking hate and aggression toward those deemed unlike us. Within a context of declining trust in institutions, it is hardly surprising that society is caught up in a vicious spiral of hate, skepticism, and division.
Beyond its destabilizing effects on individuals and communities, hate is being manifested through exclusionary practices and mindsets. And that is a problem for us all. By impeding diversity of thought and constructive dialogue, hate stalls progress at a time when the world urgently needs solutions.
“Hate is in the Air”: PMI releases its white paper on disarming hostility with civility
PMI’s new white paper explores the drivers of hate in today’s society, and offers solutions for corporations ready to engage with society in order to deliver a better future.
Working in an industry that has long been reviled for its product, I experience firsthand how hate and exclusion stand in the path of change. I’m a never-smoker but I am fully committed to PMI’s future. A future that we are achieving today thanks to science-based, better alternatives to cigarettes and our mission to ensure these alternatives completely replace cigarettes for those adults who would otherwise continue smoking. The problem? Instead of engaging in a factual, evidence-based conversation on the potential these innovative products represent for smokers and public health, some special interest groups are rejecting any solution coming from the industry—dismissing science and discounting measurable progress.
From the pandemic and climate change to tobacco harm reduction, the world faces threats requiring collaboration and innovation, not policies based on exclusion and age-old enmities. An overwhelming majority of our survey respondents (77 percent) believe that society’s biggest challenges will never be solved if we continue to demonize and exclude those with whom we disagree. If we are to progress, we cannot allow bias and preconceived beliefs to overshadow opportunity. We cannot afford to retreat into long-established camps and close our minds to solutions offered by the “other side.”
Our world faces potentially cataclysmic challenges on several fronts. Let’s stop fighting one another and focus instead on the advances we so desperately need. Society expects—and deserves—better.
* On January 1, 2024, Marian Salzman was appointed Senior Vice President & Chief Corporate Citizenship Officer.