“Why do we want to say such negative things about our own countrymen (Admittedly, I have done it. So I think I know)? When there are all sorts of Americans, who exactly are we talking about? When we denigrate our fellow Americans, what I think we are doing is denigrating a caricature, that thing of legend we call The Ugly American. And I think we do it in pride. We do it to prove our own outstanding tolerance by denigrating the intolerance of the stereotypical Ugly American. Yet is this not in fact a form of bias? Against our fellow Americans?”
It got me thinking about our political world and how saturated in stereotypes it is. The Right is racist and evil, the Left dumb and naïve. Bigot, Commie, Fascist, Democrap, Repugnican, Libtard, Wingnut, the list goes on and on.
It’s generally not a good idea to assign negative character traits to wide swaths of people, but we all do it. I certainly have and it only leads to lazy thinking that believes the other side is coming from a place of bad intent.
As I wrote in an earlier post, The Calcified Mind,
“those others can’t merely be human beings who want what’s best for society but have other ideas on how to get there, they must be morally deficient, evil, stupid, etc….”
I hate it when others assume this about me or the political party I affiliate with, so I’m trying to be better about not doing it to others.
It’s also why I think it’s essential to have those uncomfortable discussions about politics in every day life, as nothing shatters a stereotype more than actually getting to know the individuals that make up a group you have preconceived notions about.
Are all the Republicans you know mean spirited, bigots and/or bumpkin fools? Do all your Democrat friends secretly belong to the Communist party and/or serve as useful idiots to those wishing to harm the country? Why on earth would you remain friends with anyone who fell under either category?
You wouldn’t but the point is moot. I would bet that most, if not all the people in your life want what’s best for our country and its citizens, but have different ideas on how to get there. The intent is good, even if you disagree with the how. The how is where political disagreements should start and end, but too often instead they devolve in to character attacks and questioning another’s integrity. A big fat, pointless, waste of time really, with neither side having learned a thing.
We are all unique, with different perspectives, motivations and insights based on a gazillion different things; from our upbringing and experiences to the books we’ve read, people we’ve met and places we’ve been. The human brain alone has 100 billion neurons firing off at any given time based on the exclusive genetic footprint of its owner.
In other words we are incredibly complex beings, purposely created by a God who understands the inherent value of the individual and the unique contributions only they can make. To try and stuff all of that in to a tiny box of pre-conceived notions labeled with a D or R is not only ridiculous, but insulting, both to the person and the God that created him.
Stereotyping stifles the mind. The problem with them as quoted by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“….is not that they are untrue, but that the are incomplete, they make one story become the only story.”