The Way and the What

I don’t care much about what people are.

Gay/straight. White/black. Conservative/liberal. Religious/agnostic. Christian/Muslim. Young/Old. Rich/Poor. Smart/dumb. Etc.

I have friends in each of these categories and then some. Heck, I’m in a few of these categories myself.

Again, I don’t care much about what people are.

But I care a great deal about the way people are what they are.

Let’s take a hypothetical person: Mr. X.

[sociallocker id=”1846″] Mr. X happens to have one of the personal characteristics listed above. Which characteristic isn’t important. Take your pick.

Now, do I like him?

How am I supposed to know? I don’t know anything meaningful about him.

Do I hate him?

Again, how am I supposed to know? I don’t know anything meaningful about him.

As I said, I don’t care much about what people are. I care about the way people are what they are.

Now, let’s say Mr. X uses this personal characteristic to define himself as a person. No problem there. But it doesn’t stop there.

He then uses this characteristic to divide the world into us and them, good and evil. If you happen to share his characteristic, you’re good. If you don’t, you’re evil.

Now, ask me again.

Do I like him? No. I think he’s a dick. Do I hate him? No. I just don’t want anything to do with people who use things like this to fill the world with more hatred and divisiveness.

It has nothing to do with race, religion, age, sexual orientation, or any other meaningless personal characteristic. It has to do with repulsive behavior that is driven by a meaningless personal characteristic.

I don’t care what people are, what they believe, or what issues they think are important. I don’t care about these things. I care about the way people go about these things.

Why is this so damn hard for some people to understand?

If we want to encourage better behavior, we should start judging people based on their behavior.

But if we want to tear people apart, we need only stress meaningless differences and the unrest will take care of itself.

In fact, it already is.

Originally published March 18, 2008
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