Tuesday, September 12, 2006

On Drawing Lines

Once again, Ed Brayton puts things so much better than I could ever hope to, so I'll just link to him. In fact, maybe every day instead of just posting, I'll redirect this blog to his, that should be faster :-) You can read the whole thing here. (Bold emphasis below is mine.)

I think we spend entirely too much time and energy drawing the lines in the wrong place. Too many people are focused on dividing us up into all the wrong groups. Humans are tribal by nature, I think, but as the world has shrunk we've developed the ability to form intentional tribes rather than tribes of necessity (family, village, etc). But we still tend to distinguish Us versus Them based on the most superficial of characteristics. The lines shouldn't be drawn between Christians and atheists, Jews and Muslims, and so forth; they should be drawn between the decent and intelligent and life-embracing people in every group and the bigoted, ignorant and reactionary people in every group.

They should be drawn between those who treat others as equal human beings and those who treat others as pawns to be manipulated, commodities to be bought and sold, or objects upon which to inflict their need to make themselves feel stronger. They should be drawn between those who respect the right of each individual to own themselves and control their own lives and those who seek to use their power, individually or collectively, to deprive others of that self-determination.

I should print that out and hang it on my wall, it's just absolutely perfect. Religion can be positive or negative. So can atheism. Political conservatism can be positive or negative, as can liberalism. It's not so much about what people believe, as how they treat other people. I think the labels and the distinctions we make among different systems of living tend to obscure that basic fact.

No comments: