A pseudo-philosopher’s thoughtsy thoughts on Difference

Why does difference bother some more than others?

Is it a manifestation of their upbringing?

Is it because they lacked something necessary when they were young?

Some, despite their circumstances, are able to rise above it.

Others live their entire lives accepting only one way – their way.

How do you change how another views the world when that other sees no reason to change?

Is it even your problem to fix?

Maybe, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the matter.

Maybe, you’re just as caught up in your own self-righteousness.

These ruminations are not directly related to the result of the elections, but if you find them relevant, then I do hope they provide some food for thought.

But I suppose the problem of difference is at the heart of the matter. It’s not that difference in and of itself is problematic; it’s that we don’t allow for it. This is not limited to political views; it seems to colour every aspect of our human lives. Size, intellect, race, ethnicity, religion, ability.

For those of us who seek to eradicate systemic injustice or discrimination, do we ever take the time to reflect on whether or not we implicitly accept the current terms and definitions? Perhaps you do. But I know, and I hope it’s unconscious, that sometimes I don’t. The fact that I attempted to calculate how many calories I’ve just consumed at breakfast shows me that I do accept one way of being or doing – in some aspects.

As a believer in God, I do believe there is such a thing as ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ But there are limits to this. Rightness and wrongness in certain personal matters does not mean I am then to be judge, jury, and executioner to those who don’t do or believe exactly as I do. I don’t know what’s in their hearts.

But more importantly, do I always know what’s in mine?

3 thoughts on “A pseudo-philosopher’s thoughtsy thoughts on Difference

  1. Hello, fellow pseudo-philosopher reporting for duty :) I feel a certain sense of responsibility (as a sociologist) in the present predicament Western societies are finding themselves in. The social sciences have a lot to answer for in creating the very dynamic that is driving the rise of populism

    While differences might be difficult for some to accept, what exacerbates this unease is often the broader social, political, and economic realities shaping people’s lives. For the most part the left (who mainly presented itself as the defender of the downtrodden and the oppressed) has sinked completely into identity politics, while totally ignoring pressing issues like class struggle, neoliberalism, neocolonialism, and liberal imperialism that are affecting the lives of millions in America and abroad. Instead of serious and meaningful discussions on racism and islamophobia, we are treated to a series of sound-bites (Racism=bad, Islamophobia=bad) that lack any of the complexity inherent to these topics. We end up with a vocabulary often bereft of its broader ideological corpus. We talk about poverty without talking about class struggle, we talk about white supremacy without talking about imperialism, etc….

    Instead, our present discussions about differences have been relocated into the realm of “Identity”. When every proclivity, every penchant, and every preference is turned into a political project, and that debating, questioning, or disagreeing with the legitimacy of such a project is elevated to the level of thought-crime worthy of the worst possible punishment and public shaming, we end up creating our own inferno. While many during this election were motivated by a genuine sense of fear (fear of economic woes, fear of terrorism), for some Trump became this unapologetic maverick refusing to be silenced by “political correctness”. I would in fact argue that this was/is his main appeal.

    Look, I’m all for combating systemic injustice and discrimination, but we cannot achieve that by shaming the other side into silence. Ideas don’t die because they are forbidden, they simply hide in some dark corners of society, where they fester and turn into even more radical versions of their former selves, only to resurface in moments of profound social, political, and economic crisis. Trump is part of that dynamic. What I am hoping for is that this becomes a moment of self-reflection on how we approach each other. I hope that this inane idea that some political positions/ideologies are sacrosanct and shouldn’t be questioned is finally put to rest. I prefer by far to live in a world where even the most vile ideologies are allowed into the public arena so they can be debated, debunked, and rebuked by the sheer strength of our counter-arguments. Education is key in creating a world where differences are not feared but cherished.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Geeky! Thank you for sharing such nuanced thoughts. You’re absolutely right. I didn’t even touch on class or imperialism, perhaps because I bought into the identity politics paradigm myself. I think liberals like to think they’re so much better than others who don’t ascribe to their ideologies, but those that hold power are corrupt and self serving. It’s politically advantageous for them to use (exploit) the plights of those they profess to represent to their own benefit. But the real, deeper conversations are still under the surface. I hope the current political climate forces us to finally acknowledge the need to have them. Thanks so much, Geeky! <3

      Liked by 1 person

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