Monday, October 10, 2011

Group and Identity and You're not so smart

I am starting to acknowledge what some black theologians (where black describes the theology, not the human being!) have been saying for a while. Post white-supremacy/ colonial Christianity and politics boils down to two streams. That which says we should be colour-blind, aim for a non-racial society and move on. And that which says my colour and ethnicity is a fundamental part of who I am and I can never move on without it (and by implication I define you by your colour and ethnicity). I am able to understand the first quite easily, but I am busy trying to get myself into the skin of people who believe the second. I can glimpse it, tantalisingly close, but still can't comprehend it.
I was reading an interesting (but long) article on http://youarenotsosmart.com. It's about 'asymmetric insight' which we know best by the fact that we tend to consider our own motivations innocent (when I did that I made a mistake) and others' less so (when they did that they were being nasty). But it revolves around research into group behaviour that I think helps to understand some of the dynamics.

 Just as you don a self, a persona, and believe it to be thicker and harder to see through than those of your friends, family and peers, you too believe the groups to which you belong are more complex, more diverse and granular than are groups of which you could never imagine yourself a member. When you feel the warm comfort of belonging to a team, a tribe, a group – to a party, an ideology, a religion or a nation – you instinctively turn others into members of outgroups, into outsiders. 

and

The research suggests you and rest of humanity will continue to churn into groups, banding and disbanding, and the beautiful collective species-wide macromonoculture imagined by the most Utopian of dreams might just be impossible unless alien warships lay siege to our cities.

I would like to believe is that following Jesus can do better than alien warships could!
Read the article here

2 comments:

Steve Hayes said...

"Post white-supremacy/ colonial Christianity and politics boils down to two streams. That which says we should be colour-blind, aim for a non-racial society and move on. And that which says my colour and ethnicity is a fundamental part of who I am and I can never move on without it (and by implication I define you by your colour and ethnicity)."

I think it's a lot more complex than that.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Yes, I suppose I am limiting my scope to what I encounter and what I consider vaguely reasonable. Would you suggest a third or fourth stream/s that could be 'boiled down' to a few words? I'm curious to know if I have overlooked something that's right in front of me!