The Limiting World of Stereotypes

Citizen Tom has a thoughtful post up on the unpleasant habit many of us fall in to of denigrating our fellow Americans.  There’s a lot of good stuff there, but I particularly liked this:

“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.”

This entry was posted in Political, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to The Limiting World of Stereotypes

  1. Citizen Tom says:

    @Tricia

    Very thoughtful. Thank you for taking some of the ideas in my post and adding some of your own. Much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen,Tricia. I enjoyed Tom’s post ,too.

    Something I think we need to do is figure out how to separate the personal from the political and take responsibility for ourselves and our own reactions. So somebody cuts us off in traffic, we’re mad because somebody cut us off in traffic, not because they’re a stinking liberal and we hate their politics 🙂

    Recently I was in a discussion about misogyny and “the church,” and come to find out the people really mad…had actually never been in “the church,” but they “know things” because they’ve been told things, so the whole church now needs to mend it’s evil ways. It’s as if the whole world must straighten itself out and fix all the things we don’t like, whether they are even true or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Yes, separating the person from the political is spot on IB! It’s fine to hold differing views and certainly important to stick up for what you believe in, but things go nowhere when we automatically assume the other person is coming from a place of bad faith or that we know all there is to know, end of conversation.

      So typical your discussion was with those that just assumed they knew everything. I’ve found it’s impossible to have a reasoned conversation with these types because their need to believe what they think is true overshadows all and dissent cannot be tolerated.

      I don’t discriminate at all when it comes to getting mad at people who cut me off. All types are at risk. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Al says:

    This post (and Tom’s) makes a lot of sense. I hate that. It sure is a lot more fun calling people names. Especially if they’re libs. But I promise to do better. Sort of.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The idea that we should reach across the aisle in the name of the common brotherhood of man is an admirable one.

    Nevertheless, stereotypes exist for a reason.

    I must say that I haven’t had a deep political discussion in person, with a leftist for over 30 years.

    That is because every single one I’ve ever known has melted down when presented with the opposing ideas that I expressed to them. I simply felt that I was not only being cruel but also putting my life and well being in danger, which I truly was.

    Bible Belt Christians aren’t much better. When one of them finally gets a brain of their own, they usually become angry as all hell atheists.

    And if over 90% of blacks vote Democrat no matter what, am I a racist for observing that an entire subculture of America is stuck on stupid?

    There is a current stereotype of THE Donald voters being racist, bigot, sexist, homophobic, who want to kill children, babies and old people.

    It takes just a little brain to realized that whereas authentic stereotypes are rooted in years and years of actual cultural activity (you can see them with your own eyes if you want to), the recent THE Donald stereotype is simple leftist partisan hatred that issued forth during the last few months since the 2016 election.

    I grew up in the era before political correctness.

    What made stereotypical jokes so doggone funny was because there was a grain, if not an entire mountain, of truth to them.

    Christians have to get over the “blessed is the peacemaker” crap.

    We are at war.

    The other side has no interest in peace.

    The left is trying and succeeding in wiping out our Christian religion and culture from the face of the Earth.

    Meanwhile, the average Christian is primarily concerned that all Christians be sure to behave themselves.

    Thank goodness for the Internet and social media!

    There, the Christian can deal death to Godless ideology peacefully and without fear of reprisal, simply by confronting and decimating it in reasoned discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      You bring up some good points Silence and yes, there is usually a kernel of truth rooted in stereotypes. I just find that when you decide ahead of time to not trade insult for insult with someone, no matter how they behave, conversations tend to go a lot better, or you quickly realize you’re waisting your time and can bail. Take the individual out of the mold you’ve set them in and you might be surprised at how much better they react. I’m talking about individuals here too, not the paid trolls or the professional robots that work for campaigns.

      Plus you can’t just pick and choose the stereotypes you like and so feel are ok to use as you do with Christians. There are 2 billion of them in the world, do you really feel they all behave as you say? There is certainly some truth to the Donald stereotype the left puts up, that’s why it’s so effective to those that don’t know better. If you know the full picture about him and his voters, you know there is much more to the story and that campaigning against that stereotype lost them the election.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wally Fry says:

      Hi som

      Really. All bible belt Christians are either idiots or atheists? That is false

      Blessed are the peacemakers crap? Maybe you ought to take that up with Jesus after all He said it first.

      I agree we are in a war. You apparently think that means anybody who is not you

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wally,

        If I was ever stuck out in the wilderness with a broken down car, I would consider myself beyond lucky if someone like you, Storm or Insanity stopped to help me.

        You guys take on the hard jobs.

        Here on the Net, the domain we work in is mostly ideological and intellectual.

        So it is ideas and beliefs and ways of thinking that receive so much of my “caring” attention.

        Rest assured, that I am too empty headed to make it about “anybody who is not me.”

        I have received a classical education, that is an education in the Western Heritage which includes Christianity, philosophy, science and engineering.

        People of this age, “secular,” include atheists and Christians, especially Protestants who have intentionally forsaken the 2500 year old tradition of Western thought.

        The modern Protestant, like you, Storm and IB are, like the atheist, hopelessly lost in time, in this case lost in modern times.

        You might also remember the words of Saint Peter, the Apostle from Acts:

        Acts 2:40 “And he used many more words besides, urgently appealing to them; Save yourselves, he said, from this false-minded generation.”

        Like

        • Wally Fry says:

          Hi Som

          Glory to God that we have you to be the last bastion of Christian intelligence on the planet. Lol.

          Sadly I suspect you truly believe your mindless rants as you toss any Christian besides you in with the atheists.

          So that we don’t bring further embarrassment to our Lord i am done with this engagement.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Wally,

            There isn’t a “last bastion of Christian intelligence on the planet.”

            The Western Heritage is taught at many universities and forms of the basis of the political philosophy used by America’s Founding Fathers, for example.

            The Western Heritage includes the history and culture of the ancient Greeks and Romans which was incorporated into Christian during Antiquity and the Christian Middle Ages.

            Secular Protestants such as yourself, along with modern secular atheists, reject the Western Heritage which formed the foundation of Christian Western Civilization.

            Like

          • Wally Fry says:

            Tricia very sorry. Just say shut up and I will.

            Som what is a secular Protestant and why am I one?

            But hey let’s talk about you rejecting something real quick. Let’s talk about the “blessed are the peace makers crap ” comment

            This is a problem. If you claim to hold the high Christian moral ground and refer to our Lords words as crap? You have forfeited that right the instant you did that.

            Thanks for the space Tricia.

            I won’t waste any more of it

            Liked by 1 person

          • Wally,

            The Bible teaches us about the titanic struggle between good and evil.

            For example, King David annihilated his enemies by the most violent means.

            That’s because he was at war.

            During World War II, if you tried to make peace with an Imperial Japanese soldier, they would have cut your head off and hung it a poll.

            The only way to deal with the Imperial Japanese was to wipe them off the face of the Earth, just like King David did with his enemies.

            Regarding today’s atheists, they have laid claim to the authority of modern science, an invention of Christian Western Civilization.

            It is impossible to counter their false claim by chanting Bible verse at them.

            Someone, a Christian, needs to acquire knowledge of science and prove that their claim on modern science is a lie.

            It is a particularly hard job because millions and millions of Bible Belt Christians join atheists in their attack on modern science, which is truly a gift from God.

            Like

          • Tricia says:

            Silence, I’m talking about political conversations you might be having with friends, work people and family and how setting a positive tone from the start not only makes for more productive communications, it’s just really the right thing to do, Christian or not. You can be peaceful and quite effective you know at getting your point across, they are not opposing traits.

            Like

          • Tricia,

            You mean the kind of conversation that Wally and I were having?

            The same dynamics are at work.

            And the same disaster ALWAYS happens.

            Peace simply isn’t possible between ideas that are opposed to one another.

            All people can do is avoid such conversations or part company forever.

            Like

          • Tricia says:

            Silence, peace is certainly possible to those with opposing philosophies, but it does require buy in from both. If it’s obvious one person is not only willing to engage civilly but intentionally uses disparaging remarks to get their point across than I would suggest the best motive is to disengage. How would you even know any way? You said you have not had a conversation with a Liberal in 30 years and it shows by your inability (at least with the thoughts I’ve seen expressed here on WP) to see and converse with people as individuals instead of the cookie cutter caricatures you have made up in your mind about them. I’m wondering too if you’ve actually had any live conversations with Christians because your topical beliefs about them seem to suggest not. That’s why it’s so exhausting to engage with you; you and you alone know the truth, woe to anyone who does not agree with this.

            Like

          • Also Wally,

            It is the misuse of Gospel teachings that is crap, not the actual teaching.

            Like

          • Wally Fry says:

            So, the proper teaching of blessed be the peacemakers is destroy the people you don’t agree with?

            You are sorely confused ,friend. Contending earnestly for the faith does not mean we seek to destroy those who are against it. Look, I am all for actively opposing those rabid atheists evangelists, no problem.

            Get this SoM, because you are simply wrong on this one and come across as a rambling madman. Our goal to help everybody on the path to Jesus, even the ones we hate. Our goal is NOT to destroy them.

            Destruction of evil is God’s domain, not yours. If you insist otherwise, then it is YOU who have fallen off the Bible wagon.

            Now, since apparently to you everything is a bash atheist and Protestant forum, I am done with you.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Wally,

            There is nothing in any of my comments about destroying people who disagree with me.

            Since your comment is based on that fallacy, something you hallucinated yourself, then the rest of your comment is also a fail.

            You have employed an atheist technique which is to hallucinate something ridiculous (that I advocate destroying people who disagree with me), assign it to me, and then demand that I explain your hallucination.

            Please read my comments carefully.

            The have the meaning I gave them, not the meaning you hallucinated for them.

            Like

          • Tricia says:

            No need to apologize Wally, I appreciate you having the patience to engage Silence on this as I really don’t.

            Like

          • Wally,

            What is was World War II all about?

            What is the present war on ISIS all about?

            It’s about annihilating a genocidal enemy from the face of the Earth.

            Only then will there be peace.

            Like

          • Wally Fry says:

            SoM

            Try to make sense. First you chastise me for saying you advocate destruction of your enemies. Then you say this. Seriously….wow.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Wally,

            To further my claim that peace is impossible in some cases, I simply have to refer you to your own comments.

            “Seriously…wow,” is a put down.

            And claiming that I “chastised” you is a lie.

            It is you who have been chastising me.

            Wally, you are a dummy, not a peace maker.

            Welcome to the club.

            Like

          • Tricia says:

            Someone needs a time out and it’s not Wally.

            Like

          • Tricia
            “No need to apologize Wally, I appreciate you having the patience to engage Silence on this as I really don’t.”

            If you were a peace maker, you would have the patience.

            If you actually read the Bible you would understand that Christians are commanded to have patience.

            You don’t have patience because you are not a peace maker.

            If you are not a peace maker why doesn’t Wally insult you the way he has insulted me?

            In a way, you people are worse than atheists because at least they know who they are.

            You are just like them, but claim to be something else.

            Like

  5. Very well written and expressed. If people would be willing to take one step back, leave their egos and arrogance outside, sit down together and really FOCUS on LISTENING and truly HEARING
    eachother’s words, SOLUTIONS would be more readily tolerated. We are so focused on proving “our way” is the “right way,” the message of improvement and/or advancement gets lost in the rhetoric.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Thanks Jonathan. I just find it sad too that people are so quick to limit themselves with pre conceived beliefs. I do it to no doubt, that’s why I know how stifling it is to imprison your brain this way.

      I love your perspective on this as usual. Listening is surely key!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. David Ross says:

    Socrates discusses in Plato’s Republic how to control the masses you must divide them and that is exactly what it does. This has been going on from the beginning of time and unless we learn from history, it will continue. I am betting it will continue. Keep them occupied with sports, events, etc and they will never realize what is really going on.
    Americans are very good as a whole, but we are being heinously manipulated by our media and the indoctrination of our disgusting education system. It is all from the left and they have gotten much better at the power of suggestion in my lifetime.
    In “The Protocols” No. 1 the statement 6 says:
    “Political freedom is an idea but not a fact. This idea one must know how to apply whenever it appears necessary with this bait of an idea to attract the masses of people to one’s party for the purpose of crushing another who is in authority. This task is rendered easier if the opponent has himself been infected with the idea of freedom, SOCALLED LIBERALISM, and for the sake of an idea, is willing to yield some of his power. It is precisely here that the triumph of our theory appears; the slackened reins of government are immediately, by the law of life, caught up and gathered together by a new hand, because the blind might of the nation cannot for one single day exist without guidance, and the new authority merely fits into the place of the old already weakened by liberalism.”
    This is a statement from what is described in the Nag Hammadi as the Archons (name from the Gnostic Christians but each religion has a separate name for them). These are the true people in control and they are not nice people. The Christian Church actually snuffed out the Gnostics in the 3rd or 4th century burning their “bible” and most likely killing all their adherents. Whether it is government or religion, people must be killed if you can’t control them. I think they knew too much of “the truth.”
    As far as arguing with a liberal silenceofmind you are truly wasting your time. A liberal is really just a polluted thumb drive as they programmed to take information in and spout it out, i.e. useful idiots. Their brain technically is not functioning as it is devoid of a critical thought process, the very process that makes us human. They are imprisoned in their own minds. This also applies to conservatives also, just not to the same degree, but this might be my biased perception.
    Unfortunately, American’s have the most narrow view of the world due to our extremely controlled media which spits out lie after lie after lie. Fox vs. CNN is a lie. The Archon’s make money off war and dying so that is why we have war. Do you really think Trump is different from Obama? If you do then the Hollywood Movie being made in DC is doing its job. If you think America has a right to bomb Syria whether Assad did or did not do Chemical weapons, you would be wrong. Vital national security interests? Give me a break!
    We are really all the same, we just want to live in peace and enjoy life. Is that too much to ask?
    I expect to called fascist, racist, sexist, anti-sematic, and stupid many more times in my life. Because that is what is programmed into the thumb drive to produce an immediate visceral response. No critical thought needed. Just an arrogant ignorance and to believe the programmed lies adamantly.
    If you can’t think for yourself are you really human anymore?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      I think it’s very true what you say about dividing people as a method control and it sure has been going on for eons. In today’s world, I tend to see it more as politicians doing what they have forever been doing and that is trying to gain more power. Create enemies that are for whatever reasons a threat to a specific populace, then champion yourself or party as the ones who will fight that threat, those people etc…You see it on the Right but I think it’s ensconced way more in the Left because of the sympathies of the mainstream media, Hollywood, etc… and the ease with which their messages can be pushed. This has all changed of course with new media and a more educatedd populace in my opinion and is the main reason why we are seeing so much contentiousness.

      I just don’t agree that you can write off debating with Liberals or Conservatives for that matter because sometimes (many times?) the stereotype you have about them is true. Individual people make up those parties who will always lead very different lives and have very different backgrounds than the stereotype allows. Debating stereotypes will never get you anywhere, but discussing disagreements as individuals often leads to good fruit. At the very least, they or the other person sees a representative of the party they’ve demonized in their mind as a normal, compassionate human being. Perhaps, just perhaps it will cause a shift in thinking. Or maybe it will in the minds of others witnessing the conversation.

      Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own belief system that we lose our own humanity in trying to defend it and common sense goes out the window. It’s something we all suffer from to a degree.

      Like

      • David Ross says:

        Left vs. Right, Black vs White, Women vs. Men, Purple vs. Yellow. Doesn’t matter. It is a complete lie. It’s purpose is to divide and conquer. If we do not wake up to that fact then all is lost. Without the critical thought process to recognize this we are not human, but only machines that can be manipulated how the Elite wants. If anyone thinks they have an open mind, they can watch Zeitgeist at http://www.zeitgeistthefilm.com . If you are imprisoned in your own mind obviously this will not happen. My desire is not to tell anyone anything, I just want people to think.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Dennis says:

    Treat people or a group of people according to what they do and say. Not because someone else offers an opinion either good or bad. Make your own judgments and leave the stereotyping to others.
    Having said that, based on history, we have a lot of words and actions that would lead one to stereotype large groups of people. And so the world turns and there is only one way to get off!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      I agree Dennis that people need to be evaluated based on their words and actions. We should strive to always treat them though as we ourselves would like to be treated. Easier said than done, I know!

      And so the world turns indeed! Say wasn’t there a soap opera named after that? 😉

      Like

  8. Dennis says:

    Tricia your WAY too young to have seen that soap opera! You must have read about it. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Julie says:

    Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with you (and me).

    This is what we prayed today (and most Sundays) at my church: “Grant us empathy for the political convictions of others that we find troubling – particularly those of family, close friends and members of our community. May we have ears to hear what lies at the heart of their political concerns and eyes to see the noble but imperfect search for goodness that is motivating their position, especially when we strongly disagree with the leaders, policies and actions they support.

    Grant that our posture toward every human leader might be driven by respectful prayer and, where protest, prophecy and non-violent resistance are needed, may we have the courage to speak, oppose and critique – in humility and charity – their ideas and actions that oppose Christ and His kingdom. Lord hear our prayer.”

    That second paragraph kind of bugs me, but it’s a good prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

Respectful comments always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s