You won’t like it because it’s too simple.
You’ll read a few lines and think, No, that will never work. She doesn’t understand.
And you will dismiss these thoughts as the inept ramblings of a middle-class white girl, and you will continue to react to things as you have before.
But that’s on you. What’s on me is to say what I think in a way that is courteous and understandable, and let you do what you will with it.
The problems we face in humanity are not new, are they? We invent new-ish names for them, and take turns getting in an uproar about one or another, but they cycle around and we face the same things over and over.
Disease, death, starvation, corruption, racism, bigotry, sexism, wars, ignorance, so on.
As each situation swells into something that gets attention, we start analyzing the particulars and coming up with solutions.
Not that these solutions are bad. But they are specific solutions for specific problems, and if we would all step back from the specific problems maybe we could see a bigger, general solution.
The problems we face, you see, aren’t rooted in particular wrongs or discriminations, but in one universal human tendency: the habit of sorting people into different groups and then deciding, based on the group’s categorization, what we’ll think of those people.
What we think of people is how we treat them.
You know what’s also a neat switch-around for that concept? How we treat people is how we will learn to think of them.
We have this nasty habit of dividing and labeling, and it comes from fear. We see the group that is not our own as an anti-group, a threat. If that other group claims or maintains power, we fear what will happen to our own group.
History validates that fear.
Humanity does not have a good track record of treating each other nicely. In fact, it’s only in the last hundred years or so that we’ve started talking about how maybe we should change that.
Oh, there have always been a few weirdos here and there, scattered in our history books like little flashes of light in a dark, dark night, reminding us that maybe we should lay off the warring and get better at the helping.
But the majority of us have been too busy surviving to worry about stuff like that. Surviving was the priority. I guess that’s understandable. The problem, though, is that in order to survive we kept on with our habit of dividing, categorizing, and then responding in fear to most other groups.
Self-defense mechanism? Survival of the fittest (group)?
Sure, okay, maybe. Have we evolved enough to let go of that instinct yet?
It’s time we saw ourselves for what we are, individual members of one very large group, humanity. In order for humanity to survive, we need to let go of the groupism in all its forms: racism, sexism, otherism over any particular.
We tend to meet racism with bigotry, phobias with insults, ignorance with sarcasm.
This tendency is not helpful.
The tendency that is helpful? Kindness.
I know. So simple, right. So elementary, so silly, so foolish to think we could solve our varied problems with kindness.
But kindness is powerful. It’s not instinctive unless we think it will benefit our own survival, and usually, we don’t. We have to choose it consciously and work at it and it’s not fun and it’s not easy because we all enjoy insulting one another and feeling superior.
Ahahaha, we laugh among ourselves, those silly atheists/Christians/Muslims/conservatives/liberals/gays/homophobes/blacks/whites/others with their stupid beliefs and ignorant ideas.
We sit in our caveman circles around our indignant little fires and feel smug and certain of our survival.
Guys. Seriously. Let’s stop it.
If you are in the habit of being unkind, friend, then you are part of the problem. I don’t care who you’re being unkind to, and I hope by now you can see why: in any circumstance, when we look at an individual and think that because X individual is part of Y group we can make XYZ assumptions, we endanger humanity.
So here’s an idea, a really simple one, but maybe if we all tried it we could see something amazing happen.
Let’s quit other-ing each other. Let’s grow up and start using manners toward even the most other of others that we encounter. Let’s meet racism with kindness, and sexism with kindness, and bigotry with kindness, and intolerance with kindness, and phobias with kindness, and arrogance with kindness,
and I wish you would, but I bet you won’t,
because I’m not in your group.
Photo Credit: Me in ME