Differentiation and Identification. Understanding these two words, I believe, will make all the difference to the quality of life we will all live in the future–and to our sanity itself. I believe it will untangle for you why so much of recent events seem to reflect a world inverted, operating almost on the opposite of the values and standards you were accustomed to.
American Heritage dictionary defines Differentiation as: perceiving or showing the difference in or between… You fill in the word. Ex. Perceiving the differences between people or groups, or ideas.
It defines Identification as: considering something as identical, equating.
One word leads to sanity, and the other to insanity. Plain and simple. In life, many things, attitudes, actions, ideas etc. may be similar. But it is the every rising intelligence and sanity of an individual that allows him or her to see the differences. Conversely, it is the every lowering intelligence and sanity of an individual that compels him or her to see things as identical.
This subject explains mob rule, civil insurrection, lynch mentality, social injustices, and the erosion of the Rule of Law. The Rule of Law that is a part of the American Experiment requires that one be able to differentiate, and not identify. It requires facts, distinguishable facts, and not a blur of one fact obscured by mounds of emotion.
Take for example a woman who is mugged by a black man. Though a bad thing obviously, the quality of her life and others will be influenced by whether she differentiates or identifies from there forward. If she differentiates, she holds no animosity toward other black men, let alone all black men. She holds animosity toward the ONE man who harmed. But, if she identifies, she will see every black man from there forward as bad, and concludes irrationally that all black men are bad because one man was. If she is truly insane, she assumes all black people are bad.
The Me Too Movement, in my opinion, would be wise to study this. And the participants should look closely at the degree of sanity or insanity manifested in the behavior of the movement’s leaders. Each woman who has experienced sexual harassment, assault, or worse is right to revile the man who did it. If she differentiates, however, she will not hold all men responsible for the acts of one–even if she is part of a group where each INDIVIDUAL member has experienced something similar.
On the other hand, if she identifies, then ALL men are sexual predators of some sort in her mind, and any future accusation can set her off. Associating with other women who may also be identifying one bad actor with all men can also cause her to further identify. Before you know it, she sees all men as threats to be dealt with. Instead of handling the one actual “bad actor,” she rails against all and habitually hits the wrong target.
In a just culture, when we are wronged, we should seek redress. But, it has to be against the right target, not some other innocent and uninvolved person whose only sin was that they were part of the group the bad actor came from.
The absence of this sanity and the ability to differentiate, sorting out fact from fiction, fact from opinion, and rationality from emotionality, has led throughout history to racism, lynching (literal and figurative,) brandings, pillories, riots, genocide, and much more.
I will leave you with this thought. There was a time prior to World War 2 when the German people could look at their neighbors and evaluate them for themselves. But once the brainwashing and mind control efforts began and were skillfully continued, an entire nation of people began to see the one Jew that acted inappropriately as representative of the entire group called Jews. As the identification dug in further, they no longer sought to punish the one, but rather equated the one with the whole, and sought to punish the whole. We all know that was one of the darkest periods in man’s history.
I have always been an optimistic person. I adopted a personal philosophy that each person I meet or know is basically good. I do not expect the worst from them. And except on those days when I may be acting like a jerk, I hold the view that the other person has my basic respect automatically. My disrespect, on the other hand, has to be “earned.” Therefore, if someone does some harm to me, or others, they as an INDIVIDUAL may engender my disapproval, thereby earning my disrespect. But it is their actions, not the actions of the gender or race or religion they are part of, which influences my thinking.
I’d like to think that is sanity. How about you?
And when I saw mobs of people willing to literally throw out the Rule of Law in the US because of their identification of one man who may have harmed them in the past with ALL men, thereby hitting a wrong target and destroying lives in the process, I call that insanity. Human decency says, before you destroy someone be sure they are the right one. And if they are, then temper the punishment to the offense.
Not all offenses are equal. It is my hope that we evolve again into a society that is not so lazy. One where, if we see some similarities between things, we are intellectually and emotionally mature enough to look for the differences. Differences lead to sanity. Identifications lead to insanity. Sanity and happiness are aligned. Insanity and hate-filled unhappiness are also aligned.
Such a valuable lesson. Vital, in fact, if we are to maintain a sane society. Thank you, Lee.