Self Validation - Not Discrimination
September 12, 2019Share:
By: A Fine Local Democrat
WE ARE ALL ALIKE
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we define our self worth. How do we measure ourselves? Is it by the amount of our wealth? The praise of family and friends? Work evaluations? I think it is human nature to want to be seen in a positive light, to feel that we’re “worthy”; that our lives matter.
So, how do we accomplish that? All of the above, of course, but there’s also inevitable comparisons we make between ourselves and others: “I’m better at that job”; “I’m prettier “; “I get better grades”, etc. Yes, comparison and then self-validation that “I’m special”.
But, what happens when that validation is achieved by assertions of religious and/or ethnic superiority? That sense of preeminence over those that do not believe or look like we do? That’s the line we’ve crossed from self-validation to discrimination. And, how easy it is to cross that line! It’s not a distinct line, with clear demarcations – no, that line is often blurred. That line is often, oh, so gradually crossed by good people, unaware that we are slipping into that judgement.
BUT WHEN WE DON’T FEEL WE’RE ALL ALIKE?
Life presents us with difficulties, and as all of us sometimes do we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed; we can lose that positive validation of our self-worth. It is then that we can fall prey to rhetoric that promotes divisiveness and bigotry or hatred towards others; that casts blame on them, exonerating ourselves from our own responsibilities.
“If it weren’t for those d**n ____________ I’d still be in the ‘privileged’ group.” (Fill in the blank)
But now, in our Trumpian era, it’s so out in the open! If our President can spew his insults, hatred and vitriol as if it were water, then certainly we can all come out into the open. No need to keep those thoughts to ourselves, or just whisper them at home, or with like-minded friends. No, we can shout them out from the rooftops!
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?
One problem is that hate crimes have substantially gone up since our current president took office. And even more frightening is that large numbers of Americans are turning to scapegoating rather than taking responsibility for our actions - blaming others for conditions outside of our…and their…control. Many of us are casting blame rather than seeking solutions based upon inclusiveness, a trait that was our American stock-in-trade until most recently.
HERE’S WHY THAT’S WRONG
History should have taught us the profound dangers of such behavior. To rile the people up against any group, to think that you or I are somehow superior shows how weak and ignorant we are. Those with strength of mind understand that solutions are not found in blame or divisiveness or hatred, but instead are found through understanding, inclusiveness and compromise (a word that isn’t used much these days).
Our country has always been great because of American ingenuity and the ability for all the different “us” to work together. Problems and differences will always exist in our society and in our homes, but we must strive to seek constructive solutions and we must not fall prey to hatred and bigotry. As Aretha Franklin so eloquently sang, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!” …and to all of us.
Why “Stop Bigotry” Won’t Stop Bigotry
Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide