The one and the many

A friend of mine observed that many people need enemies and will create them if they can’t find them. True. I’m one of those people myself. I try to make abstractions the enemy, rather than people, but it doesn’t always work.

It’s not that simple, usually. Often people are promoting or imposing an enemy abstraction, so the two become difficult to separate. The systems that oppress us are created and enforced by people, so it’s hard to resist or reform them without resisting or trying to reform people. (People don’t always take kindly to being reformed. Have you noticed that? I have. I don’t take kindly to it myself. It depends how it’s done, of course.)

I don’t have a solution to this problem. A quick glance back over human history (I estimate it took me about 3 seconds) doesn’t suggest that humans are very good at solving this problem.

I suppose one possibility for minimizing the harm, though, would be to notice when you’re overdoing the personalization, and take a step or two back. One particular banker doesn’t stand for all of the wrongdoing of banks. One particular sexist asshole isn’t the representative for all sexist assholes. One serial rapist comedian…you get the idea.

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