People are hard to hate close up. Move in.
I’ve set a goal to read at least 24 books this year. I'm excited to read so many books on many different topics! The first book I am reading this year is by Brene Brown called “Braving the Wilderness.”
One of her chapters is entitled “People are hard to hate close up. Move in.”
I really like the title of that chapter.
She talks about how we are all prone to dividing ourselves and others into categories. When we do this, we set ourselves up to think in terms of ‘us vs them.' These categories divide, separate, and do more harm than good.
These categories that divide can be based on politics, religion, race, social issues, sexual orientation, nationality, kneeling during the national anthem and so on. When we make these categories and place people into them, we dehumanize them.
Brene says, "Dehumanizing starts with creating an enemy image. Good vs Evil, Us vs Them. Dehumanizing creates moral exclusion." In other words, I can say anything I want about "those people" because they don't matter. I am good, they are evil. They are my enemy. Or maybe you have thought that "those people" are taking away your rights. "Those people" are ruining America. "Those people" don't deserve to live! These are thoughts that we think about other segments of society based on prejudice, the news, social media, etc. And you know what? It needs to stop.
We shouldn't be comfortable calling people aliens, scum, pigs, or a racial slur of any kind. This is dehumanizing. Think about it, you think so little of someone that you don't even see them as someone God loves. Instead, you see them as less than human. They are the enemy.
The problem with this type of thinking is that when you actually take the time to get to know someone on the other side of the divide, whatever that divide may be, it becomes harder to hate them. When we divide, we dehumanize other people. When we get close, we realize that they are human beings with problems, feelings, hopes, fears, and dreams just like us. They, like us, are trying to live their life according to their beliefs and principles.
Let's stop hating others and start moving in. Let's seek to understand what we do not understand instead of vilifying everyone who may be a little different than us. If we would commit to doing this on a regular basis, the world may just become a better place.
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