Letters to the editor, May 7

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Instinctive reactions

Humans, animals too, instinctively see danger in the different. Such things as unexpected sounds and movements, large animals and unfamiliar people long signaled and may still signal danger.

We also know instinctively that we can better defend ourselves against the dangerous different by joining with others more like us. Those instincts, once necessary for survival, may lead to destructive “us against them” reactions today.

Instinctive fear or dislike of the different causes chickens to peck deformed chicks to death and the bullying of children who don’t fit in. And we instinctively support those in our group against the racially different, religiously different, national-origin different, social-class different, language different, politically different, different thinking and so on.

Sometimes, like chickens, we feel it’s OK to use violence against them, or character assassination or other immoral means, just because they’re different.

We must fight such mindless instincts with logic and reason, which tell us that most differences are unimportant, that “content of ... character” (the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.) and character-produced actions are what’s important, and that almost every group has both good and bad actors.

Let’s learn to treat those like us and those different from us as individuals, not as members of groups with supposed group characteristics.

Let’s treat every person we meet with equal respect and equal caution. If their actions then show they’re wrongdoers, treat them as such. If their actions show they’re decent people, treat them as such, regardless of the groups they’re in.

Lee Nahrgang,

Denton


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