Generalizations Are Dangerous

 

Generalizations Are Dangerous

Generalizations are dangerous. It’s too easy to start dividing people into ‘us’ and ‘them’ based on dozens different persistent ideas or habits that make each person a unique self. It’s ridiculous how good people are at this type of dividing where, quite frequently, ‘us’ implies ‘the normal people’ and ‘them’ has a tinge of disdain. I’ve known car-drivers who talk of pedestrians with contempt; I know vegetarians who call non-vegetarians ‘flesh-eaters’; quite a few religions have a pejorative term for those who don’t belong to it: infidels, goys; nationalism breeds division of people into us - citizens and them - immigrants who come here to steal jobs and women (and sometimes it doesn’t even matter that the person IS a citizen if they look like a foreigner). Generalizations are bad because they allow to abstract away from the individual and perceive them as a stereotype, which also adds a bunch of negative connotations linked with that stereotype for free. For example, my grandmother - an otherwise average and altogether kind person, used to believe that all Jewish people not only steal other people’s money, but also drink the blood of babies, which, first of all, is fucking insane, and also destroys all hope of perceiving a Jewish person as a human being. No doubt, a result of Soviet anti-Jewish propaganda (ironically at least partially inspired by Martin Luther’s late works, ironically - because of all the Soviet religion-denouncing, you know).

Every time a terrorist attack happens, people, quite reasonably, try to find an answer to the question of how? How could this person, or these people kill other people: children, men, women, mothers, fathers, teachers, bus drivers in cold blood? Well, that’s the problem - in their minds they didn’t kill people, they killed a rubber stamp enemy. A very different type of morals comes into play when you can think of a group of people as non-people. Which brings me to my point. Generalizations are dangerous. Read it again - generalizations are dangerous, regardless of which side of the conflict you are on. I realize it’s incredibly hard, almost impossible to subdue one’s emotions when atrocities like that happen, we are human beings, we empathise, we sympathize, that’s how we function. But please, when urging for action, when placing blame - do step back and consider whether maybe with a generous sweep you’ve put the innocent citizens of another country - people like you and I - under the same category as the fanatics, radicals and sick people who are actually to blame. Generalizations are dangerous.