The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Black And White

We're supposed to have a dialogue about race. That's what they say anyway. What they really mean is that we should talk to each other about racism. I have talked about racism and prejudice a number of times here on Boomer Musings.

My friend at "The View From Outside My Tiny Window" has done a better job of describing why racism exists than I ever could in his post #194. I urge you to read it. He is a very smart man and quite the accomplished one.

Essentially, I believe that racism is an offshoot (or "unintended consequence") of a genetic predisposition to trust those who look most like us. That is, it began when mankind was first emerging. We had needs: food, shelter, procreation. In order to satisfy those needs we needed to survive in a sometimes hostile world full of dangerous animals and, worse, other humans. We could easily learn which animals might do us harm and which weren't likely to but other humans? Not so easily. So we developed a kind of judgment based on looks. After all, that is/was our primary sense. We could see the fangs and claws of predators easily enough and, using our other senses, hear them growl and hiss and the like. But humans are stealthy and can pretend to be friendly.

In our clans, mostly made up of kinsmen, people were familiar so it is logical to extrapolate that into be trusting of those that look most like us. Any characteristic that was different made our distant ancestors wary.

As an aside and example of what I mean, a friend of mine once told me she felt fear around blue-eyed people with fair skin. This friend is African-American. She felt more comfortable around me because I had brown eyes and dark hair.

As we developed tribes, which later grew into communities, we allied with people who also looked like us.  We still do this, I think, in a number of ways. Look around your towns and cities... you will find enclaves of people who look alike and speak alike. Italian neighborhoods, Chinese neighborhoods, Korean neighborhoods, and so on. It's not just because these folks were kept out of other neighborhoods, though that certainly happened, but also because they felt more comfortable being among their "own kind."  We are "herd animals" and that means we like being among others and the others should look familiar.

Do we still need this predisposition? I do not think so but since it has become "hard-wired" into our DNA it will be near impossible to eradicate... much as we might like to get rid of it.

Can we overcome it? Yes, I believe so, on an individual basis. That is, each of us can, if we choose, not give in to it; suppress it in our interactions with others. But it takes effort and, above all, recognition that we all have it. That is the part that is difficult... not do a kneejerk denial of our own prejudice.

I wish you luck in disciplining yourselves to control your alleged instincts. We can, each of us, make this a better world.

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