Rehumanizing

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Pay my respects to grace and virtue
Send my condolences to good
Give my regards to soul and romance
They always did the best they could

And so long to devotion
You taught me everything I know
Wave goodbye, wish me well
You’ve gotta let me go

-The Killers

As one of my favourite troubadors/political commentators tweeted today (check him out on Twitter if you want some keen reflections on WTF is happening in the Bizarro World @Mikel_Jollett), “the idea that your political rivals are inhuman is the core idea of Nazism.” Responding to a criticism of that assertion, he also noted that “fascism is a PROCESS. Dehumanization of rivals is a step in that process. By the way, ignoring the SIGNS of fascism is also part of (the) process.”

Mikel Jollett (I’ve talked about him before. He wrote the single best song about regret ever. In all of history. You think I’m exaggerating, but listen to it and try to tell me otherwise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYPoMjR6-Ao) was referencing the situation that is unfolding south of the border – specifically, on this occasion, the ignorant rantings of the son of the IMPOTUS, who suggested that those who stand in critical opposition to his father ‘aren’t even people’.

Yeah no.

So it seems that, once again, I must call attention to the myriad dystopia-creating patterns underlying the election of that guy to the highest office in the land (and to the former leadership of the Free World – I say ‘former’ since it was made clear-as-crystal, after his recent European holiday, that no one outside the US regards him as fit to lead anything at all), epitomized in that insidious little ‘Again’ that follows ‘Make America Great’.

That one word advocates for a return to something that those of us who know anything about history know wasn’t, in fact, the best of times – as such things can be determined by any sort of measure. I’ve written about the fallacy of the ‘good ol’ days’ before. Yet the perpetuation of such idiocy is being taken to the nth degree by the nutbar now sitting in the IMPOTUS’ office.

Leaders like Trump (and Hitler) are allowed to rise to power because they legitimize ideologies that are ugly – and promotional of a group psychology that encourages complicity to ever-larger atrocity – by beginning with a mandate that reactionary simpletons can get behind. Trump’s uneducated (or self-serving) masses want to hear that someone is willing to return them to a gilded time when they held some level of ascendancy over some ‘other’ types of people.

Essentially, the social identities of those who voted for him have been shaken by progressive movements advocating crazy things like social justice, equality and equity.

Othering is nothing new. I talk about it a lot (seriously. There are a lot of posts here in the wide world of colemining that deal with Us vs. Them, scapegoating, the personification of Inhuman Evil … I think I’m stuck on a theme). It is the basis of all institutionalized Western religions (and some that aren’t so institutionalized). It is the justification for the enslavement of those who are not identified – in a specific temporal or geographic context – as ‘one of us’. It is the manifestation of a pattern of dichotomy and polarization that permits the rise of fear-mongers and seekers of illicit power.

It is representative of a continuing trajectory of the legitimation of hatred.

I’m an historian. I know too much about that level of complacent culpability and othering, and the acceptance and/or dismissal of the banal wrongness that comes along with it.

Entire communities of people are still being told that they are less than – because of the colour of their skin, the place they left in search of a safer/better life, their gender, their sexual identity or orientation, or the fairy tale deity in which they choose to believe (in a country that, supposedly, trumpets the separation of Church and State).

A significant part of the failure of education that has led us, as humans sharing a planet, to this place in time is the mis-remembrance of history. The ‘Again’ word, as part of the IMPOTUS’ sloganeering, permits the continuation of an illegitimate portrait of world events as they really happened. It helped to create the false narrative that he presented throughout his campaign and persists in dictating now that he is in office.

Coincident to the mess that is unfolding in the US, I’m dealing, currently, with a situation that represents that whole inter-connectedness thing that I go on-and-on about. It’s kind of Platonic – ‘as above, so below’ – or representative of a demonstration of the whole micro-macro paradigm.  People in my little workaday world are being taken for granted and stretched to ever-increasing limits by unreasonable expectations driven by something that the higher-ups keep calling ‘resourcing issues’.

I hate what is happening for many reasons; there is a lot going wrong. But the key thing that is sticking in my craw today is the use of the term ‘resource’ to describe actual human beings. Commoditizing people is wrong on manymany levels (see above, especially that whole bit about enslavement). But, at its worst – in this context, anyway – it reduces inherent value and person-ness in support of fiscal/economic expediency/excuse-making.

Yet, for some reason that continues to escape me, this is common parlance in the world of so-called ‘human resourcing’. Humans, while resourceful, are not resources. They are people.

As of today, I am refusing its use and testing more acceptable alternatives. At the moment I’m going with ‘under-peopling’, as in, ‘a decline in the quality of the stakeholder engagement is a direct result of a continuing trend toward under-peopling.” We’ll see how that goes over.

The process of dehuminzation remains a surreptitious go-to that permits the villainization/dismissal/subjugation/murder of other people. We accept it, unthinkingly, in certain contexts – like the one at my day job. We have a human tendency to call people names that serve to keep separate those we perceive to be different from us, or to express displeasure at the thoughts/words/deeds of someone else.

I have a tendency to call the IMPOTUS by anything other than his name (since he loves that name so much, I take perverse pleasure in not contributing to any further development of his brand) but I do not deny his humanity when I do so. In fact, I frequently point to him as an exemplar of humanity. An exemplar of the worst of humanity, but still people.

Tomorrow should see the beginning of the end of this most recent failed experiment in regression and anachronism. Whatever comes out of the US Senate hearings (let’s hear it for impending impeachment!), we have to acknowledge that words matter. Engendered violence has no place in evolved society, and history has demonstrated, too many times to count, that dehumanization is, by definition, discriminatory, and the first step on the path to institutionalized injustice and genocide.

Time to start watching our language. And the ideologies that drive it.

 P.S. If you’re in need of some music therapy after Comey’s testimony, have a listen to The Airborne Toxic Event’s album ‘Songs of God and Whiskey. It’s wonderful.

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11 comments on “Rehumanizing

  1. You had me singing with The Killers’ lines, Cole, the refrain, ‘Are we human?’, on repeat. Listening to some of the politicians here, and reading some of the commentary, has me wondering. Wish us luck today that we elect empathy rather than robots for whom ‘humanity’ does not compute.
    Good to see you back on here though I’ve been absent myself, other than quick postings.x

    • colemining says:

      Hey A-M. It’s hard to bring myself to write anything lately. I’m sort of numbed by all that is happening in the world.

      With all that is happening in that circus down south, I almost forgot that you go to the polls today. Very much hoping for a positive change for you all.

      Thanks for checking in. Have to have a proper catch-up soon. And, though it’s early days yet, starting to think about Ireland-Scotland 2018, so I may be coming to plague you again before you know it. xo

  2. […] Rehumanizing on colemining […]

  3. quiall says:

    I wonder how long it will take to repair the damage he is doing.

    • colemining says:

      Hi Pam! This is a good question – and one that I hope will be answered very soon. The damage is substantial, and I’m not convinced that any replacements the GOP might offer up will be any less heinous in their violations basic human dignity. The lying HAS to be addressed, though, so I’m hopeful that the hearings will mark the end of this terrible reality television programming. Thanks for stopping by! xo

  4. bethbyrnes says:

    I have so many thoughts on this.

    First, glad to see you here. I find myself taking more and more time before posting, as it is hard to be cheerful about the world when atrocities are taking place almost hourly, right under our noses.

    I never call that man by the title he believes he deserves. To me, he is Drumpf. He is not a legitimate holder of that office. I am convinced he got it by a process that included purging Democratic votes from a number of states overseen by Republican Secretaries of State, using a system called Crosscheck. He is a fraud by process as well as by nature.

    As for the term “resource”, I am comfortable with “staffing” and “understaffing” but even that removes the human element. I hadn’t thought about that particular issue with regard to the department that oversees the system for employing people but it is certainly something I would prefer to see be as connected to real human beings as possible.

    In fact we do this more and more, we take the sentient being out of the designation so we can treat it like a commodity, as you say. This commodification extends to our homes, which banks refer to as “property”. It is rife in the animal “food” (a painful and ridiculous idea to me) industry where cows are “beef” and pigs are “pork” and hens are “chicken”, as if giving them those names makes their murder and abuse any less horrific. We apply quantitation to areas that are properly treated according to qualities. This is why I like the old fashioned Jungian approach to human psychology, and prefer anthropology over sociology and the like, because they take an ethnographic, individual approach to each person who is being studied and considered. The social sciences have been overtaken by the notion that they should ape the physical sciences.

    In actual fact, qualitative assessment is harder than quantitative. It is an art and a science that few master. Anyone can feed numbers into a computer or manipulate algorithms and fool everyone into thinking it tells us anything about reality.

    What is going on down here is 535 people making decisions based on corporate lobbyists and billionaires (400 families) making or breaking their own personal careers. These men and women in our Congress, especially the Republicans, care very little about their constituents.

    I think a parliamentary system is far superior.

    On my own post today, I mentioned that I think people are just cowardly and want things to be easy and safe. Being civilised, thoughtful, analytical, measured, informed and unselfish are the hallmarks of advanced character. That, apparently, is too much for 35% of the voting public here. We just have to wait until their numbers are diluted and their immature approach to social and community life is seen for what it is: primitive and regressive.

    • colemining says:

      Thank you, Beth, for your insightful comment. I, too, am trying to strike a balance between doing nothing but rant and rave about the state of things (and the state of the States) and not writing anything at all. Given that I feel somewhat consumed by concern at the direction so many are choosing it’s increasingly difficult to see my way through to anything like optimism. Which is a very hard admission for me to make.

      Safety- or the perception of safety- is top of my thoughts lately. I have a decision to make- and, although I know what the right answer is, it’s still hard to finally just make the leap and set myself on a path that will be healthier and, ultimately, more fruitful in every possible way. Sometimes messing with the status quo is a weighty consideration.

      Per usual, I agree with your thoughts here, and appreciate the time you have taken to give my words your consideration. We all need look to the future with some level of hope- that rational, humanistic heads will prevail. And that we take a lesson from this time- and the light it has shed on the inequities and prejudices that yet remain in our communities- as we move toward a better future.

      All best wishes for a lovely summer. xo

  5. Ste J says:

    I am proud to have never really been an adequate ‘resource’ to any of the jobs I have been in, thanks to stealing time for blog posts and questioning the understaffing of a company. Also if I am paid minimum wage a I expected to give the best service possible, surely my wage should be higher for a better service.

    That man (to not give him his name) is getting worse by the day, his visit to England has been postponed as the nation said we didn’t want him here. It’s a result as such but the real results will come when the Democrats get back in, well one hopes.

    • colemining says:

      I’m with you, Steve. On all of that. I have a real issue with being treated as a commodity- and being required to treat other people as such, as well.

      And yes- he who has no name is rightly unwelcome in the UK- after the idiocy he spouted about London’s mayor (and all the rest of the nonsense for which he claims no responsibility)

      Hope your summer is off to a good start! Thanks for stopping by!

      • Ste J says:

        Summer today is 12 degrees and rain! Typical weather for us though and having been in Asia I can’t complain about not getting my Vitamin C.

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