The reoccurring problems within our world and more specifically our country today have to do with the issue of dehumanization. It’s all about who we see as close to us compared to those we find inconsequential and don’t matter to us. It’s about the reality we surround ourselves with, and what we see on a daily basis that blindsides us to experiences beyond our own. What we don’t see becomes what we don’t understand, and that is why we don’t care and sometimes something that is so prevalent in someone else’s reality doesn’t even exist in our own.
We permit sweatshops, the criminalization and killing of innocent people, and the abuse of power, wealth, and privilege in our country because it is engrained as part of our culture. This is not entirely our own fault, because we were born into this system. We often aren’t aware of the harm that we cause when we choose what to buy, when we choose what media we consume and the viewpoints we surround ourselves with, or even when we choose where to live. We don’t see the systemic oppression we contribute to.
But it is our choice to do something about injustice when we are taught that it exists. It is our choice to educate ourselves and educate others to be fully aware of the facts, and from there we can essentially reevaluate our lives and change the way we live to become more compassionate human beings. That is a lot to ask. That is a lot to give. That is a lot to give and not receive in return. We think that bad investments are what we put effort into but don’t end up benefitting ourselves.
When will we learn that we are not all fending for ourselves? When will we learn that whatever we do affects everyone else and everything else? When we ignore climate change, there are consequences. When we ignore the value of a human life, there is someone who dies. When we choose to not vote, there are consequences. Those consequences are what come back to us, to impact us directly. We create our own futures, and we also create the futures of people we never meet in our lives. These people are the unseen people who are held back by the systems we perpetuate.
Why is America so divided? Let’s return to the issue of dehumanization vs. humanization. We fear what is different. We are comfortable with what is the same and what we are familiar with. How similar in mindsets and principles are all of the people that you surround yourself with? How do we find the desire to want to learn about people who are different from us and to actually understand them, and care for them, when we have already dehumanized them, and put them in the category of “other”? How do we humanize those who are different from us if we fear them?
How do we make people care for and understand other people? What’s ironic about this question is that almost everyone just wants to be cared for and understood, and simply have their existence accepted and valued. If we want it for ourselves, then we have to put that out into the world for others. So maybe we can start there.