Otherism

by Bob Schwartz

At any moment in America, some portion of the population believes in and is engaged in otherism towards those not like themselves or whom they do not like. The proportion varies, the degree varies, the targeted others vary. It may be race, ethnicity, religion, geography, age, gender, sexual preference, class, wealth, anything. It has been that way, here and everywhere, and it will be that way.

What we can do, the best we can do, is try to shrink the proportion of the population acting on these tendencies, reduce the degree, lower the number of targets. At least we can change the mechanics built into the system, and allow others to do what anyone does, and to be free to be who anyone is. As for the hearts and minds of otherists, that is a farther reach, but ongoing awareness and open discussion is a start.

This is in the context of, a prelude to, a very brief comment on the Trayvon Martin case. There are only two certainties there: Trayvon Martin was shot dead by George Zimmerman and it is in some ways about race. Racism is the primary—though not sole—form of otherism in America. It is our curse, our karma, the legacy of a misguided enterprise that fed right into a tendency toward otherism. Progress is not so much a matter of two steps forward, one step back on a road. It is more like a chaotic, entropic society that wants to be better, if not good, but finds itself spinning around a dark past that throws orbits off kilter by its powerful gravity.

We constantly need to know where we are so we can make corrections, however slight. There was the election of a black President, and now there is this case. Let’s see how we do.

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