The Circles of Life

In light of all the political battles currently being waged over human rights issues (one of which I’ve already addressed), I’ve felt the need to tackle some major topics. Before I can, though, I need to set some ground rules. First of all, however, I will predict the future.

I wouldn’t be surprised if history remembered our time as The Age of Petty Squabbles. Sure, it doesn’t quite ring like “The Iron Age” or “The Industrial Age,” but in all honesty it feels like we don’t ever revolutionize anything anymore (will rant about that later). We don’t ever just get things done. We have more freedom than ever to pursue knowledge and express ideas; yet, with all that freedom we seem to just end up arguing with each other. As I see it, the basic problem lies in our inability to understand the differing definitions of people.

Now, definitions are important; we need to define things in order to have a frame of reference from which to operate. Too often, though, people define humanity by drawing vast, dividing lines. The prevailing mindset is that people must either be option A or B. And it doesn’t matter how many lines you draw, if you’ve got options C or D (etc), the assumption is that all of humanity can be jam-packed into all-encompassing definitions. They can’t, of course, but that doesn’t stop us from drawing these lines all the time: you have to be a Democrat or Republican (ps. it doesn’t matter, America will always hate whoever’s in office), you have to be pro-choice or pro-life, you’re either for democracy or you’re a communist, you’re either gay or straight, you’ve got to act like either a male or a female. We just draw a line, divide everybody up, then base all further interactions on these invented generalizations. I submit that we, well, NOT do that anymore.

Hate to use another Spongebob, but hey. When he’s got it, he’s got it.

It’s not like we need a drastic change in the way we think. All I’m proposing is that we stop drawing lines, and start drawing circles.

Imagine a table spread with, um, we’ll say m&ms? Or Skittles. Or whatever your favorite, multicolored candy is. Now imagine that you have to separate the red ones from the blue ones. First try doing it by drawing a line. See what happens? You can pick out the blue ones and then draw a line between them and the rest, but all you’ve done is divide the blues from the not-blues. You could say you’ve done the job, but now everything “not blue” is categorized as “red,” and by golly the greens don’t like that at all!

Now try separating the blues and the reds simply by drawing circles around each group. Check. That. Out. Now you’ve got a group of blues, a group of reds, and the rest can be whatever the heck they want! So it’s not a perfect analogy, but it illustrates the point. Instead of trying to divide society into opposing sides, what if we simply define society into co-existing groups. Circles. And those circles can overlap and can be as big or small as you want, and anybody who doesn’t want to be in any of those circles can go ahead and have their own circle! Shoot, who knew Google+ had the right idea all this time? But it’s really just that simple. If somebody wants to be a democrat, great. They can be a democrat without me having to be a republican and without us having to clash on all fronts. And you can re-do those last two sentences with any (previously) dividing issue you want.

Anyways, I hope that this idea can set the tone for the rest of my major-topic-tackling. From now on, in all the issues I discuss, there will be the presupposition that (1) people can’t be over-simplified or mass-generalized, and that (2) the goal here is not for us to decide who is right and who is wrong, but to find a way for us all to live in this world together. After all, we have to do that no matter what.

What do you think?

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