OPINION – A look at the headlines of the past couple of weeks should confirm the obvious – inhumanity is not limited to any particular national border, ethnicity or belief system.
This reality seems to take some people by surprise.
After all, we’ve been conditioned to think in collective rather than individual terms when explaining the cruelty of humans towards one another.
This is why many find it easier to blame the Paris attacks on all Muslims rather than on the murderous individuals who carried them out.
It’s why a mad man shooting people at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs is falsely portrayed as representative of Christian pro-life activists.
Both are recent examples of how people who are anxious to promote ideology will eagerly blur the lines of distinction between the individual and the collective.
The true measure of people’s blindness is found in their deliberate indifference to any suffering and destruction that results from their own ideology.
Whatever they claim to believe in, their goal is to obtain power over their fellow man.
It’s why Americans who are outraged over the senseless murder of dozens of innocents in Paris can find no wrong in the needless deaths of hundreds of innocent Middle Easterners mistakenly killed by U.S. drone strikes.
Likewise, those howling loudest about the carnage wrought by the Planned Parenthood shooter are strangely accepting of the destruction of millions of innocent lives each year through abortion.
In both cases, invoking a nebulous “greater good” is sufficient to justify the deaths of other individual human beings who had wronged no one. This is why it is very dangerous to value our attachment to various “isms” over our commitment to good character.
A person’s skin color, religion or ethnicity are irrelevant abstractions. The only real distinction that matters among mankind is whether one is decent or indecent.
Whatever scientific grouping of humanity we choose to examine, both character types will be present.
Every single person on earth is born as an individual. No matter what artificial groups or classifications some try to separate us into, no perfectly identical individuals can be found to exist.
Because of this, the only fair way to judge anyone, if some judgment is needed, is by his or her individual actions and words. Those who strictly judge others according to what group they belong to are substituting prejudice for observation.
Unfortunately, group or identity politics has proven to be very effective in dividing society up into little tribes that are constantly pitted against one another.
The only antidote to this malevolent type of social engineering is found in regarding one another as individuals and resisting the urge to make group judgments.
Authentic tolerance is rooted in the recognition of individual differences whether in ourselves or in others.
Charley Reese explains:
There are no perfect groups and no perfect people. We all, as individuals, have our own mix of strengths and weaknesses, of talents and proclivities. The only way America can work is if we remember that we are bound together not by blood or country of origin, but by common courtesy, mutual respect and a shared belief in individual liberty.
The times during which humanity has made its greatest advances in freedom, dignity, and protection from exploitation have stemmed from this recognition of the value of the individual.
By contrast, the darkest and bloodiest moments that humankind has experienced have been when the blind hatred of groups pitted against other groups is the norm. It’s no exaggeration to state that predatory human beings exist and cannot be trusted with unchecked power over their fellow man.
As ugly as it may be to consider, the indecency that gave us the genocides of the 20th century is still alive and well in the hearts of some. It is not limited to shadowy terror groups that resort to very gruesome and public executions to draw attention to themselves.
It can be found in the words and actions of men and women who salute the flag, go to church on Sunday and yet who fail to recognize when they are surrendering to groupthink.
All that would be required to unleash this indecency is for someone, presumably in government authority, to persuade people that whatever atrocity they’re doing is being carried out for the “greater good.”
Such tactics have clearly worked before whenever people were persuaded to view others as less than human.
This places a significant moral burden upon each of us as individuals to ensure, as Solzhenitsyn counseled, that if evil is find a way into this world, it must do so through someone other than us.
Bryan Hyde is a radio commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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