Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Dehumanizing Humanity

The more we call a murderer an animal or treat a hero like a god, we not only dehumanize them, we dehumanize ourselves.

What differentiates us from animals is our higher consciousness, treating any other person like a wild animal to be put down or a deity to be worshiped strips them of their humanity. In failing to be conscious of the fact that a criminal or a celebrity is just like us, we forfeit, at least to a degree, our claim that we are beings of higher understanding, or even of simple cognition.

Instead of seeing violent criminals as people who do wrong and heroes as people who do good, we simplify them into symbols. Rendering them into stereotypes to satisfy our more base instincts and allowing us to avoid reflection. No longer do we see them like us, no longer do we see our risk in becoming a desperate crook or our possibility in becoming someone noble enough to right a grave wrong. Instead of seeing people like us becoming convicts or celebrities, we see animals in prison and idols on pedestals.

When we take the humanity away from criminals we take away the possibility of humans to do evil. When we take the humanity away from heroes we take away the possibility of humans to do good. And in the end all that humanity is left describing is a bunch of animals.

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