Once the object of hate has been successfully dehumanized the violence delivered upon them is excused and justifications for why they deserved it are generated no matter how insignificant the transgression. Things get worse when entire groups of people are dehumanized (they are not like us), homogenized (they are all the same), and demonized (they are a threat). They become recognized only as the ultimate evil and receive no compassion or empathy.
The concept of tit for tat or an eye for an eye has existed as long as humans has and honestly probably before (the behavior is also seen in other primate species). It feels good to retaliate when you have been wronged, Its justice!
Each of us has a particular perspective of how things “should” be and move through the world wearing that particular wardrobe contained in our personalized boxes. It goes kind of like this, “I am a Police officer; I have high social status and therefore people should interact with me in a respectful way that reflects my social status.” In my example I used an officer but literally you could insert any career, gender, income level or race and it still holds. Most don’t like to admit it, but we usually buy into the whole idea of social hierarchy. The CEO of a major corporation is handled a lot different than the cashier at Walmart.
The fluidity of respect is very problematic, this means that it can be effortlessly shifted and easily influenced. Respect is reliant on human memory and as such tends to be a bit selective. From my personal perspective and some of the text that I have read human memory is not always based in reality. We are primed to hold on to negative experiences. I can understand this from an evolutionary standpoint, as a hunter gatherer you needed to remember the bad things that could cause harm to you and your family to ensure that you avoided them. Yes, we needed to remember the good, but fear generates more of a stress response and will linger in one’s memory longer. Your human ancestors were the best at remembering the bad things and knowing how to avoid them. If they hadn’t been you would not be here today.
Self is the new buzz word these days, selflove, selfcare, self-esteem, self-focus, knowledge of self, self self, self. While understanding yourself and caring for yourself is always a beautiful thing sometimes overdoing it or exaggerating the focus on self will create the inverse of the desired outcome. An exaggerated focus on self will not build your self-esteem, constantly focusing on one’s self usually creates a position of vulnerability. It can place you on a pedestal or a perch that you have to defend and maintain. When on the top people are constantly looking around to see who is or is not on their level and judging people accordingly. Unconsciously and sometimes consciously you begin making personal comparisons, especially to those perceived to be of lower value, to make sure to maintain a position above them. This creates a mindset that says “they don’t deserve to be on top” that only I and perhaps others like me deserve to be there.
As previously stated most animals have instinctive or sensory ways to identify their family but we humans do not. As such we can simply decide that someone is one of our people based on any criterion we see fit. The oddest thing about human grouping is the fact the sometimes the love, connection, and passion I feel for my group of people can cause me to devalue or dismiss the humanity in others completely.
The notion that these are your people who love and care for you is comforting, humans need that sense of connection to thrive, to explore, and to be confident in who they are as an individual. This is why in the modern era where the family has become fractured so many seek outside sources as a sense of support and community ie., gangs, factions, political parties, and if you look online there are millions of groups that allow the most isolated and obscure traits to be a unifying attribute in the creation of an Us. With all that said is being in a family, political party, gang or group inherently bad? We know the obvious answer is no. Creating healthy loving families and groups are needed for society to develop, it’s the meaning and importance placed on belonging to a specific US and the devaluing those humans identified as THEMS that is the problem…
Richard Dawkins author of a book I sincerely enjoyed, The Selfish Gene, got caught in a bit of controversy around this time last year for suggesting that Eugenics would work. “It’s one thing to deplore eugenics on ideological, political, moral grounds. It’s quite another to conclude that it wouldn’t work in practice. Of course it would. It works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs & roses. Why on earth wouldn’t it work for humans? Facts ignore ideology.” He makes solid points but what exactly counts as working?
“It is as important that the right people should be born as that the wrong people should not be born. By the ” right people ” I mean not those who, in Herbert Spencer’s phrase, are the “fittest to survive,” but those who give most promise of ” civic worth,” that is to say, will be most likely to be at once useful to themselves in the way of enjoyment and self-support, and also useful to the community at large. Sound health, a sufficient amount of energy, a well-balanced brain, are obviously desirable, nay, necessary ingredients-good moral training should supply the rest. ” Crackanthorpe 1909
There often comes a moment in the middle of a situation where we know how we should act, the things we should say and what we should be feeling. Yet we don’t actual do or feel any of those things that we should. We go off the rails a bit. Later we are bewildered and don’t know why we acted so out of character.