Apologies and new realities.

I begin this post with an apology. I dismissed the lived experience of someone because sticking with my default opinions was easier (and ironically I had ended that post by claiming that I wouldn’t be doing the wrong thing just because it is easier…sigh). So I apologise to Virtual Brush Box for brushing off your comment about how not everybody is living in fear. I am sorry I did that.

I have written before about my belief that people behave badly, or treat others badly, as a reaction to their own fears. They act to protect their own privilege and status from changes, or even new ideas, that might challenge them. They fear the levelling of the playing field in case it exposes them as average, or less than, the people they disparage and abuse.

But that is not the whole story.

Children are raised to make others ‘Other’…they are taught to hate. Changing that thinking and escaping that conditioning is analogous to leaving a cult, only this cult is far more socially acceptable and thusly a lot harder to leave. How do you convince someone that their parents, grandparents and extended social circles were all wrong in telling them, not necessarily explicitly, that certain groups of people are worthy of scorn and abuse? These people don’t feel fear that they are wrong, they are certain they are right because it is what they were taught from the beginning. The sky is blue, grass is green and those people are worth less than us for some awful reason.

There are many reasons for people to hate, I still believe that a lot of it is unacknowledged fear of loss, but there are terrifying others like plain and simple sadism. True sadism is a personality disorder, but sadism can be a trait only used on certain groups at certain times. Via a comment by Marcus Ranum on Mano Singham’s blog (on Freethought Blogs) is an article describing how and why some sadistic people do what they do. The line that caused me to pause was ‘I have come to believe attributing fear to sadism gives the sadists far too much credit’…I paused because I agree, but I had not yet faced that reality.

The only way to stop a sadist is to find a benefit to them from NOT torturing and abusing their chosen victims and I’m not sure how to do that. I am also not sure how to recognise sadistic behaviour vs thoughtlessness and ignorance, but I am going to try to find answers to those questions. I aim to be a sceptic, I want to question my own assumptions as well as those of others, so as well as apologising for defaulting to my normal opinion I want to thank Virtual Brush Box for prodding me back into scepticism…thank you.

(What I don’t get about a lot of modern sceptics is the lack of real apologies. If you really are questioning everything then you WILL be wrong a LOT of the time and unless you have an unlimited, unearned income then you cannot spend all day questioning yourself and others, so it is a life-long pursuit, learning and modifying opinions as you go. Surely that would lead to MORE and better apologies?)

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Doug Butts says:

    I would have enjoyed this, if I believed that you exist but I am taking scepticism seriously. If you can prove otherwise I would gladly apologise. Taking the stance that I wrote everything on the internet for my own amusement because I’m the only person in this simulation is much easier than trying to figure out what is going on in other people’s heads. Philosophy 0 Doug Butts 1.

    1. errantmoon says:

      Sigh…who can beat that argument…except…you are all simulations in MY universe because I KNOW I exist, it’s the rest of you I’m not sure about (although why I would also create so many arseholes and Normals to populate the place is a concern) Doug Butts 0 Errant Moon 1

  2. Thank you, my friend. Although, an apology was not necessary. I did not take it amiss. (I am usually quite good at taking things amiss.)

    Agree 100% on the upbringing argument. In the US, the red (conservative) is a solid wodge in the empty, rural center, while the blue (liberal) is around the densely populated, urban edges. It’s hard to buck the trend when one is getting a single, unified message from family, church, social environment, and so on. When there is variety in the stew, you have exposure to different ways of thinking. Which of course makes me wonder if I think the way I do, i.e. that variety is good, b/c of my upbringing. Thanks for getting me to think about these things.

    On a different note. Doug Butts is my comment new hero, from impromptu llama poetry to existential Internet arguments.

    1. errantmoon says:

      I love questioning things. It was something I was never encouraged to do as a kid, so realising as an adult that I could and should be sceptical about pretty much everything is liberating and exhilarating…it is what has freed me from the more negative childhood conditioning…more people should do it 🙂
      Wow…I must have done something bloomin’ amazing in a past life to get Doug as a commenter…or something anyway…

  3. Doug Butts says:

    *blushes* Thank you very much. I can be commissioned to write Llama poetry for marriages, funerals, bar mitzvahs, etc. Well done Errant for getting everyone thinking. I haven’t read VBB’s blog for a while but I did really enjoy that story about the detour to avoid a bridge.

    1. errantmoon says:

      Ooooh, me too! That was a good one.
      Thanks Doug.

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