Dehumanize and Desensitize

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I'm totally guilty of this. My tendency is to discredit someone if they bother me. Bad drivers, for instance. I really don't think of them as human beings. I'm not alone. I read something--somewhere--that noted: We find it much easier to fly off the handle when a car cuts us off than when a person walking in front of us does.

Why?

Because, typically, a person will notice their mistake and glance back at you. Often, you will note the apology on their face and drop it. But with cars, we don't see the face of the person. We don't get that flash of human connection. All we see is the giant ton of metal and plastic carelessly almost killing us. And what is responsible for that machine of death? Some thoughtless maniac behind the wheel.

I got to thinking about this after watching a brutal and awesome film over the weekend. As the hordes of enemies were quickly dispatched of, I cheered. They weren't human. But when one of the main characters was wounded, I felt the pain.

I propose, then, that our desensitization comes not from over-stimulation but dehumanization.

I love books with a clear villain. But I also love stories where I understand the bad guy. The best villains are the ones that make sense. We get it. We don't agree, but we understand.

I love that Sonlight's literature-rich programs contain so many human characters... both heroes and villains. We get the opportunity to consider the lives of others and decide how we will choose to live because of it.

May we not fall prey to dehumanizing others. Instead, may we all--me, especially--become sensitive to the people around us. May we see their humanity and not fixate on their actions.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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