Saturday, January 28, 2017

We Need More, Not Less Discrimination©

"Never let yourselves be run by a word without looking at its several sides." 
--Richard L. Evans

It is worth considering another point of view about the highly loaded word discrimination. In today’s world discrimination has been politicized and narrowed in meaning to the point of making the word nearly useless.We are obsessed with discrimination as an act of prejudice or a prejudicial outlook, or treatment, where discrimination in a perverse sort of way is categorical–stereotypical–rather than individual.  In other words, the finer, and I do mean finer points of the word’s meaning are perverted from truly discriminating to true prejudice.

The word is not useless, however, and its broader meanings and applications should not be overlooked or abandoned. Wikipedia tells us the etymology of the word is from Latin into English and meant to “distinguish between;” coming from a verb meaning to make a distinction. Discrimination means “the act of making or perceiving a difference,” but it implies the ability to ultimately make fine and important distinctions. 

The ability to discriminate or make subtle distinctions is a very essential element of our own education. Early on we begin to do two things–generalize and discriminate. Things we play with are called toys–a generalization. However, a child without clear distinctions may consider a loaded pistol as a toy. So we must learn to discriminate between toy and not-toy. As every parent learns, that process of refining our ability to generalize and discriminate is endless during childhood and indeed it continues through life especially as the categories become more complicated and abstract.

Like so many other wonderful words in our English language, discriminate and discrimination have been co-opted as largely a negative–in this case they have become a political bludgeon. I would here argue for the reinstatement of the admirable meanings of this very useful and important word. Consider how essential it is to discriminate between the following, and the consequences when such distinctions are not made:

Truth and error
Strong and weak evidence
Good and bad
 Character and persona
Dangerous and beneficial
Fact and opinion
 Foolish and substantive
Right and wrong
Ends and means
 Valid and specious
Intention and action
 Important and unimportant
Freedom and anarchy
Maturity and immaturity
It seems that many of today’s American politicians, journalists, pundits, commentators, and bloggers are almost constitutionally incapable of  discriminating between such things as:

Islam as a religion and radical versions of Islam
The value of the life of a child before birth and after birth
Living under the rule of law and lawlessness
Legitimate disagreement and prejudice and bigotry
Wealth and success
Fame and/or status and knowledge and intelligence
Facts and “alternate facts”
What is legal and what is moral
 Possessing educational degrees and wisdom
Actions and policies and consequences
Slogans and solutions
Superficially presenting “both sides” and true neutrality, objectivity
Information and education
High emotion and winning an argument
Civility and weakness
Sexual preference and perversions 
Sexual license and sexual consequences
 Sanctuary cities and civil disobedience
 Personal preferences and correctness
 Majority rule and personal rights

In the face of the philosophical diverseness, fuzzy and simplistic thinking, hyper-emotionalism, political correctness, deep partisanship, materialism, relativism, secularism, and a dozen other “isms” which dominate the American polity today, as a society we need to be more discriminatory than ever.

Let’s think together again, soon.

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