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Interesting. I always assumed that the "secret" is in being able to dehumanize a certain race or a group. Once you convince yourself that they're not human beings, it's easier to discriminate, torture and kill them.

That is an excellent point. Dehumanizing a certain group makes it much easier to "exterminate" them. We saw this in World War II when the Nazis ran a lot of propaganda portraying the Jews as a form of "vermin" with lots of graphics of scurrying rats. This conveyed the idea of the Jewish people as something to be exterminated, rather than as the humans they were and are. Americans did it in Vietnam when Vietnamese people were referred to as "gooks" rather than as Vietnamese or simply as people. This derogatory term worked to dehumanize them and made it easier to kill them.

An excellent point. Thank you for sharing.

To the current comment thread: doesn't that suggest more that the idea of anyone's pain or life as inferior and unworthy of consideration is the underlying basis? You talk about Jews and humans, but your assumption is that anyone not human isn't worth that horror. Rats don't have lives that matter, animals don't. Not to you. Is there a non-arbitrary reason for this? They aren't human, sure, but that in and of itself is a ridiculous excuse to exclude them from consideration. Biological fact is not enough, because you can make all kinds of statements. It's not that they're less intelligent, either - only how you define intelligence. I don't consider technology intelligence, or the capacity for it, and I observe and understand that animals have the same capacity for logic, affection and love that we do, but with different cultures and fewer socio-economic pressures.

It took me a while, but I've come to realize that animals are like children: they are not inferior in any way, intellectually or emotionally. They just don't have the same knowledge of the world that we do. They're operating off a different - and much slimmer - booklet of game rules. And it doesn't mean that our more complex rules are healthier, or better, or superior, or more sophisticated. They're just different.

On another topic, I always turn to the English language as part of an explanation of my thoughts on authority. Words are modifiers - they narrow the realm of meaning, specifying it, making it more precise. Without additional descriptors, a single word can be boundless. "Respect", as it stands alone, is a philosophy, a way of approaching the world. But we are teaching children - adding to their game manuals - "respect authority", and that is not nearly the same thing. "Respect authority" means: you don't have to care about anyone else, as long as authority cannot make you suffer for it. As long as authority won't punish you, it doesn't matter.

In the last five years, this has become the approach of almost everyone I have ever met. It's transparent. They won't hurt you if an authority can punish them.

Hierarchy for humans is a dangerous and deadly thing. I have been committing my life these past few years to seeing things in the horizontal - as my equals: friends, allies, neutrals, threats (but not rivals, as there are no ranks). Within the horizontal realm, I have to deal with all of them as they are, without reaching for authority or punishment or abuse. If I need to, I defend myself. I must approach them as me - devoid of power beyond myself, unable and unwilling to hurt them so badly that their survival will be endangered, restricted only to permanent removal. They are my equals, and if they treat me as such, then I respond accordingly: with assistance and aid, or wariness and avoidance. If they approach me as the powerful, I hide myself and lie my shiny ass off. If they approach me as an inferior, I politely decline and direct them somewhere that they can gain themselves, supplies and the skills to become my equals. I don't WANT to be in a power dynamic. It has always made me horribly uncomfortable.

I've been succeeding at this, I think.

At least, I've managed to reset my action programming into this: if someone needs help + I have the means (time, materials, knowledge) = I help. Stimulus, reaction.

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