For the good of us all, beware of generalizing statements

It’s always good to start with “I think,” but don’t devolve into generalizing groups of people.

I’d like to share two of my biggest concerns with what’s going on with America today: accountability from our political leaders (more accurately, a lack of), and the consistency of tribalistic statements I hear and see in the media and social media.

1) The reason I’m concerned about accountability from our politicians is that a majority of them are taking campaign money (usually a pretty large amount) from CEOs or corporations. This makes me lack trust for them always voting for their constituents’ best interests. Of course usually they will vote for constituents’ interests, but they may be confronted with legislation that, while being good for their constituents, goes against their corporate backers. At that point, if they’re concerned about their campaign money for the next election, they may vote against their constituents’ best interests then put some creative spin as to why they voted that way.

If the politician is already rich they’re only accountable to themselves and the constituents, which I think is better than the former, they still might vote for legislation that helps the rich not the working class and poor. On the other hand I think any politician getting campaign money from only constituents is going be more accountable to them.

2) I’m hearing some of the media (thankfully not all) make statements that will start with “Trump supporters,” “Obama supporters,” “Hilary supporters,” “Republicans,” “Democrats,” etc. I’m also seeing the same things sometimes (not always) being shared in social media. The statements may start with “I think” or “in my opinion” which is an honest share, but then it sometimes continues into “They’ll do,” or “They think,” “Trump supporters,” “Bernie supporters,” “Republicans,” “Democrats,” etc. These are generalized and stereotypical statements. The reason that concerns me is when those type of statements are made there is often a philosophical dismissal of someone’s point of view once the stereotype is made. The thinking may be “I’m not gonna listen to them, they’re a _______.” Or, “Their opinion doesn’t matter, they’re a ________.”

This country has been getting better at addressing racism (which is tribalism focused on race), and it’s getting better at addressing misogyny (which is tribalism focused on female gender). However, I personally think we can make even more improvements if we focus on tribalism as a whole. In other words, keep focusing on racism and misogyny while continuing to focus on all other forms of tribalism, including political tribalism. That way we’re actually listening to each other, and taking the time to understand another’s concerns. Only when we’re willing to do that (in my opinion) can we make things better for all of us. I don’t know if this will work, but I’m gonna continue to try and address all of my own forms of tribalism. I hope some of you are willing to do the same.

Jeff Benson


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