There Is No Such Thing as…


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Spirituality, Things I've Learned | Posted on 23-05-2020

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There is no such thing as “The Capitalist” Or “The Progressives,” or “The Liberals,” or “The Muslims,” or “The Jews,” or “The Homeless,” or “The Non-Dualists,” or “The 3 Principles Community,” or “The Republicans,” or “The Democrats,” or “The Rich,” or “The Poor,” or “The Atheists,” or “The Anti-Vaxxers” or “The Trumpists.” Or any other label we can dream up or imagine.

There is no such thing as groups.

There are only images in our mind of what those labels mean.

We need labels in order to make sense of, and communicate within this world. However, they also create separation and divisiveness. We love those we feel part of, and hate those that seem in opposition. Yet if we take one individual from any group, it’s guaranteed they will have differing opinions from other members of the group. Which is also why there is often divisiveness within the groups themselves.

All Labels Are Stereotypes.

They are convenient shortcuts to help us be concise in our language. However, those shortcuts come with a price. When we use labels in everyday conversation, it suggests that there is some sort of solid entity that has a very specific set of beliefs, and dogma. The label itself, makes it “a thing” in and of itself. And yet, the “thing” doesn’t exist beyond our very own (unique) idea of what it means to be “that thing.”

What’s Really Happening?

Unfortunately, the vocal minority of most groups, is where we get our stereotypes. Or worse, the ones that say the most provocative things. They are often the most extreme members of those groups. Yet when those extreme views clash with ours, our categorizing brain likes to attribute them to the entire group.

For instance, some may think of Capitalists as “those people who want others to be poor because they are selfish and want all the money for themselves.”

Or some might think of Muslims as “those people who blow up buildings.”

Or perhaps some think of Liberals as “those people who want everything to be free in life, without realizing that the money has to come from somewhere.” And while there may be some members that have those beliefs and intentions, those views never describe the group as a whole.

Most groups are made up of well-intentioned people who want the best for the world and themselves.

So What Can We Do to Fix This Misunderstanding?

First, it’s very important to open up our own minds even just a tiny bit to consider what I’ve said above. That what we think of as a group, might in reality be the vocal minority within that group. If/when we do that, it can loosen up the image we have in our mind of that group.

Next, if we want to have a discussion about current events, or politics, or religion, or whatever else, rather than calling out an entire group of people as being bad, or wrong based on the words and deeds of a some, simply call out those specific people. In other words, if we don’t like people who blow up buildings (and who really does?) then talk about them specifically, rather than as a group.

For instance, there’s nothing wrong in saying “Those people who blow up buildings, shouldn’t be allowed in our country.” Why do we need to label them as part of a larger group where the majority wants nothing to do with such acts of violence?

And if we don’t like the idea of there being selfish people who want others to be poor so they can have all the money for themselves (and again…who really does?) then use that whole phrase, rather than a shortcut label. While it’s easier to substitute the one word “Capitalist,” it only describes some individuals within the larger group of Capitalists.

And if we don’t like the idea of people wanting to live off handouts without working for a living while we have to earn our money, then say that. There’s no need to place all Liberals under that umbrella.

In summary…

All groups are made up of unique individuals who have many varied points of view. Some we may agree with, others we may not. If we were to speak one-on-one with any individual member, I am certain we would find many areas of agreement and overlap of views. We would also realize that no group in and of itself is “all bad.”

It’s all in how we imagine them to be.

I welcome your thoughts.