The Healing Power of Exposure
We sure can hate each other when we set our minds to it.
What is the mechanism that allows us to get so worked up over another human being? Since the beginning of time we have attempted to live peacefully but have been horribly unsuccessful.
How do we always manage to get off track when it comes to getting along with each other?
I think most of it is linked to the way our brains our wired. The Genesis of all human hatred has to deal with separation. I am X and you are Y. This distinction between yourself and some other person or group has to be there for hatred to take place.
You are gay, I am straight.
I am a Crip, you are a Blood
You are a muslim, I’m Merican!
You are a ginger, I am human…(just kidding)
You get the point, the human brain must create separation in order to hate or else you are it has no gasoline for the fire.
My remedy for this hatred is to dismantle the framework that creates the separation of one person from another.
The vehicle through which you destroy this separation is exposure.
It is hard to hate an entire race or creed when you come in contact with it everyday. You begin to realize that they have wonderful representatives and assholes in their group just like you. They become human. This is why desegregation was so important to the civil rights movement. As long as people stayed in their own neighborhoods, schools, and churches it was easy to make up assumptions. Once you take away those physical barriers, stereotypes begin to lose their validity.
A beautiful thing happens when you get exposed intimately to a human being that is “different” from you. The differences start to melt away. You begin to discover how much you really share as a human being. The moment I go from that black guy to Greg in your mind, you can no longer think of people who look and act like me the same way.
You can still hate me for being a jerk or because I can be a bit self absorbed at times , but the power to hate me simply because of a group of people that you identify me with is very hard to maintain. (I can be quite charming)
Throughout my life I have had the honor of being exposed to all kinds of people that are “different” than me. The more I have been exposed to all kinds of people the more I realize that we all want the same things- a good meal, some good company, and a decent parking space. The more time you spend around a person the more you can see the humanity in them.
The core of this tension between cops and young black males is that they only interact with each other on one occasion. When the officer suspects that a crime is being committed, and when the black male suspects the cop of being a racist killer.
The only way that scenario will be changed is if the cops no longer see “potentially dangerous black suspect” and start seeing lil’ Chris whose dad works at the airport and Mom is a teacher. We do not need to train the cops as much as we need them to be exposed to the communities they serve.
I remember as a kid seeing police boxing leagues and other events for the kids in the neighborhood. If more of this is done, than when that it comes time for that highly stressful pullover to occur at three in the morning, both parties will feel less of a need to defend their life.
It is though exposure that we gain understanding and acceptance for one another.