I don’t want to be writing about this.

Does anybody?

Not only because I don’t really like talking about torture and victimization, but because I also don’t really like talking about race.

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has already heard about the Chicago torture incident, so I won’t go over the details yet once again, and I won’t post a link to the horrific video that the perpetrators broadcasted live on Facebook.

Humanity demands that we have some kind of emotional response to this. But this is what I’m asking: please watch that response.

If, as a white person, as a conservative, or as a Trump supporter, a feeling of triumph or vindication plays any part in your emotional response to this, check yourself. If you are mentally adding this to some running list of grievances, to be pulled out to prove some point, check yourself. If you are gloating that you now have “the perfect case” to prove that racial hatred can go both ways, or that anti-Trump people can be violent too, check yourself. If you are tempted to use this incident to draw some kind of broad conclusion about an entire ethnic or political group based on the actions of four people, check yourself. If any part of your brain is saying, “See? See?!” right now, I’m asking you to shut that down.

You can tell me that that’s what “they” would do if the roles were reversed until the cows come home, and yes, some of “them” would. You have power over one person: yourself. Do the right thing. Mourn that we live in a world where four humans would see fit to kidnap, restrain, and torture a weaker member of the human race, no matter what their reasons were. Extend condolences to the victim and to the family. Hold those, and only those, who committed the crime responsible.

And don’t presume that you can anticipate other people’s reactions. If you want to know, ask them. If you disagree, disagree based on their own words, not the words you’ve put in their mouths. And remember that you have still only gotten the reaction of one person. Black people are not a collective consciousness. White people are not a collective consciousness. Republicans are not a collective consciousness. Democrats are not a collective consciousness. We are individuals before we are anything else.

I don’t care who’s done what to who and whether they were black, white, or polka-dot. We have a responsibility to treat every person as an individual, and not to make every member of a group bear the burden of the crimes of a few of its members. That’s what you would expect to be done if the roles were reversed, isn’t it?

If you truly hate tribalism so much, don’t fan its flames.