Answering Some Questions – Society

Yes, I know. The post immediately previous to this one is pitiful. Just ignore it.

Day 9 of answering questions posed by Diane Owens.

Question #9
What do you think today’s society is lacking?

I think today’s society lacks serious respect for the individual. We treat people as members of groups. In some cases we even insist people who we think should be members of this or that group, or even our group, are traitors to the group in which we have decided they belong.

If an African-American man decides he will be Republican, he gets branded an “Uncle Tom” or “not really black.”

I have seen it said that women who do not support abortion cannot be feminists.

If a Republican politician does not believe in the latest war, well then he is a “Republican-in-name-only.”

We talk about the Hispanic vote or the African-American vote, as if these people are expected to all think the same. We discuss what women want as if they all wanted the same things. Men speak of how hard understanding women is. Women speak of how hard understanding men is.

Yes, speaking of groups of people is convenient. I do it too. But at some point, we have to recognize that people are not the groups to which they may or may not belong. People are individuals. When we stop recognizing that, we dehumanize the people in those groups. And when we dehumanize, we lose sight of the individuals.

Laws to control others are easy to support when we think drug users or homosexuals or sex offenders are all the same. Being misogynist or misandrist is easy when we lump all members of a gender together.

But when we start saying a black man who does not support the Democratic Party is an “Uncle Tom” or a “traitor”, we start implying that black man has no right to form his own opinions, no right to be an individual.

The more we think of people in groups as just members of those groups, the easier thinking in Us versus Them terms becomes. And the easier stepping on the rights of others becomes. Because They are not like Us. They need this or that law to tell them what to do. Those people, They, need to agree with Us; because we, Us, are right and They are wrong.

Respect the individual. You do not need to understand all women or all men or all this or that group. Just try to understand the ones you know as individuals.

When we treat individuals with respect, then we will be more respectful as a society. When we protect individuals, then we will make society safer. When we respect and protect the rights of individuals, then we will be serving the good of society. Not the other way around. Do not put the cart before the horse.

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