Friday, November 11, 2011

The insanity of a modern American ideal

As it happens, the mainstream idea of what America is is a contradiction.  A racially and ethnically diverse society is not one that can survive its historical state for long.  Nor is it stable. In fact, more and more sociological evidence strongly indicates that it is inherently unstable
A growing body of evidence suggests that an important factor underlying whether we show someone compassion or cruelty is the person's perceived similarity to us. It should take little introspection to realize we feel the pain of those with whom we seem to share some commonalities. Countless studies have demonstrated that we not only consistently show more compassion to those we deem "like us." ...

These psychological mechanisms were at work ... for the people who came out in droves to help the victims of 9/11, Katrina, and the Haitian earthquake -- the crises shifted their focus away from all their squabbles and differences and onto their shared identity as human beings. But once the worst was over and they slipped back into their "us/them" mentality, their compassion swiftly abated. It only takes a quick glance at the headlines to see that most conflicts -- be they national, political, religious, or personal -- often come down to this very simple and automatic "like us"/"not like us" split. [Out of Character, 127-128]
As Pat Buchanan demonstrated in his book Suicide of a Superpower,  diversity is not a unifying force.  The American axiom that "Our Diversity is Our Strength" has always gone against the grain of history, as differences tend to create conflicts, not empathy and peace.

This is definitely an interesting time in history; the next few decades should empirically announce its verdict on the modern American dream of fully integrated multi-cultural/ethical/racial ism.

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