Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sabbatical musings on what [fill in the blank]s believe

The Monolith from "2001"
There's something that's been gnawing at me for a while. Namely, it's that way we have of saying, "Christians believe..." and "vegans believe..." and "democratic socialists think that..." Why do we pretend that various groups are monolithic in their beliefs? They simply aren't.

I know that there's a human tendency (need?) to put things into categories to make it easier to wrap our heads around them. And we have to start with some assumptions to have a conversation about any group. But we end up (in my opinion) making far too many assumptions.

Sometimes people ask me things like, "Do vegans think it's wrong to wear leather shoes that they've owned for ten years, pre-dating the time they became a vegan?" There's no way I can give a straight-forward answer to that. Some vegans would say, pitch them now and buy vegan shoes! Some vegans would wear them until they became unwearable and then replace them with vegan shoes. And on and on.

Or people will say, "Christians believe that same sex marriage is wrong." Nope. Nowhere near that simple. Lots of Christians are fine with it and support it. But even the statement, "Christians believe that Jesus Christ resurrected, in the flesh, from the dead" is not true. Some believe that literally, and some metaphorically, and some Christians simply don't find that to be a crucial part of the story because they're more focused on what Jesus did and said before he died.

On and on. We could do this for any group.

I wonder what could make us stop talking about groups in such overly-simplistic generalities...

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