Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Groupism vs 'racism'

Our languaging - both externally and internally - makes all the difference in the world. As I suggested in the 1997 book I edited "Cutting Through the Mountain" the misuse, abuse, and overuse of the word 'racism' has become uncreasingly unhelpful because
a) it paradoxically reinforces the highly dubious notion of race
b) it does not accurately describe the many varieties of prejudice which may be along faith, cultural,ethnic, class, age, gender, ability or sexual orientation lines, but is often used as a stand in for some of these.

I suggested then, and I suggest again now, that the word 'groupism' explains more of the dynamic where people have a strong need to group other people into a collective (of which the grouper may themselves be a part) and then ascribe all 'members' of this supposed 'collective' with a series of either positive or negative attributes...a process which anhilates the uniqueness and unrepeatability of each individual.
We can recognise this need without seing it as intrinsically good or bad, everything depends on the heart's intention and the context...but not to recognise it, to pretend it can be banished is not to acknowledge what William Faulkner called "the human heart in conflict with itself." When we own this tendency inside ourslves we make a little space to also own that, beyond the very 'real" cultural/national/ethnic/class/gender/faith conditioning and historical experiences which imprint us with a set of habitual predispositions and responses, is something in us and others which is untouched by this cultural conditioning and is reachable across any apparent divide, if Grace grants us the time and space and support to make real contact with ourselves and the "other"

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