There is an unwritten, unintended implication in literature across the ages regardless its source: Everyone, everywhere, through all time, is the same. That sounds like a simplification, but that’s only because we believe that each of us is unique. We do not believe so because we have been taught through some religion or some education program in our childhood. We believe we are unique because that is how humans think. We all think that way because we are all alike.
Unfortunately, most of us were not raised to read literature or to seriously consider the ideas of the groups our own group has pronounced to be “others.” Instead, we go along with the crowd because, again, that’s what we all do. We all do whatever the dominant group commands. When any of us tries to break free or tries to stand up, the dominant group pushes back, sometimes with rhetoric, far too often with violence.
When I went back to school two years ago, I expected to get a degree and a job and maybe make some friends. I wondered, considering how much my family loved money, why they never thought to do the same, and why they actively discouraged their children from doing so. There is, of course, the fact that abusive people do not want their children to do better than them. They want their children to fail so they can berate them some more. It’s what abusive people do.
But there is another reason that many people fear education. Education opens our eyes to the fact that our group, regardless its position in society, is not necessarily the best one. No one likes to be told there is something wrong with their group. We can see that in the push back from men and the supporters of the dominant group against the #metoo movement. We see it in the attacks from Baby Boomers against young people who are pointing out where their grandparents and great-grandparents failed. (Yeah, Boomers, you *are* that old, close to death but even closer to obsolescence).
Education opens our eyes to see that the “others” we’ve been told to fear or, at the very least, be wary of, are just like we are. They have the same fears and the same ideas. They are just as smart or stupid. There are good people in the “others” and bad. The “others” we so dutifully try to keep in their place in order to keep the world around us from changing, are exactly like us.
This thought should not be so terrifying, only we fear change. The mind does not do well with it. When change is approaching, our minds react with all sorts of things to avoid it and to fight it. Even change that has the possibility of creating a better life for us is, more often than not, pushed away out of fear of the unknown. We know our own hell, we don’t know that other one.
Humans have gone on as we have for over 10,000 years, casting out those who disagree, attacking anyone who looks different, and killing and destroying anyone who threatens what we believe. Each generation hopes to be the one that changes this cycle. Each generation falls back on what they were taught by the dominant culture.
We have far to go, and it will not be as easy as we think it should be. We can start by seeing that the person we hate simply because our culture has told us to consider them “others,” is exactly like we are. And we can begin by admitting that the people who rail the loudest against “others” and rattle the swords and cry for war, rarely have the best interests of society in mind.