Our Better Angels: (Forty Six &2)

I’m sure I’m not the first person to reach this conclusion or express it but I’ve only recently begun to realize that unless you make a super conscious effort to catch yourself from doing it, we are collectively, universally making assumptions about the motivations of people we are in disagreement with, constantly – often the worst assumptions.

And to that end, no one is less qualified or more likely to misdiagnose the motivations of others than the individuals who are in disagreement with them.

Obviously there are times in punditry when this is a blatant slandering and purposeful propaganda, or a disinformation campaign. And I do wonder if the 24-hour news cycle and their primetime, hot-take sophistry has made it worse.

But more often than not it seems to have been engrained in the group mind of the human psyche, and the fear of others is something trickling down the line and prevalent throughout history between e.g. Crusades, or with individuals acting out of step with established norms – Witch trials.

It may even be some sort of defense mechanism we have adapted long ago, and inherited biologically. If you’re in an indigenous tribe, and half of your population gets wiped out after coming in contact with someone who looks different, in different clothing – that story gets passed down in oral tradition and maybe it’s one of the many things that made groups assume the worst about others, and maybe those groups were more likely to protect themselves, and survive as a result.

In any event, we’re capable of appealing to our better angels on this, and evolving – but it is an easy thing to do, regularly, unless you make a conscious effort to catch yourself as you’re doing it.