2011-02-28 16:29 - General

I've been trying to form, for a while, a better set of words to convey what I've been coming more and more to consider a truly important idea. Here's my best go at it, so far:

One of the most major failings of the human race is a deep misunderstanding of what "normal" is. This combines with a base fear and distrust of the unknown and unusual, to incite all manner of hatred, crimes, and wars. Humans tend very strongly to self-associate with those who are similar: be it for age, gender, skin color, or (most importantly) world view. So much so that many of these different traits tend to self-align. Men may often have a "macho" countenance where women are more gentile. Why? Because we isolate ourselves in bubbles of normalcy, we coddle ourselves in its warm blanket, identify with it, and fight against anything different. When confronted with radical differences, perhaps two religions who both consider themselves to be the one and only ultimate truth, reactions can be severe.

It was just a few moments ago that I came across this quote by George Bernard Shaw, from Caesar and Cleopatra, apparently circa 1900:

"Pardon him, Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature."

This when one character reacts violently at an off-the-cuff reference to (as far as I can tell) incest, which in that culture is completely normal, for royalty. I think, on the whole, humans generally lack perspective, make a flawed judgment of what is normal based on their flawed sample, and (consciously or not) make a whole lot of really awful decisions as a result. We're all barbarians, who think the customs of our tribe and island are the laws of nature.
Johan Sundström Johan Sundström
A truly excellent post. Thank you! Feb 28, 2011

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