I am Jack's Smirking Revenge

little, yappy dogs

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

An Analogy

I've been pondering something recently, and here's a little idea I have been mulling over.

Imagine a desert. You're in it. Aside from the clothes on your back, you have nothing. In the distance is a towering giant building. As far as you know, there isn't another building, and considering where you are, you have no option to go looking for one- it's get into that tower or die in the desert.

Upon arrival, the inhabitants look out at you and dismiss you quickly, closing the door in your face.

You manage to get out of them: they don't know you, so you can't come in.

You pester them, and after some effort, it is discovered that someone inside knows someone you know. However, it is again concluded that you can't come in.

You have nothing to offer them.

After further pestering, it is established that yes, it is likely that you have some skills which might be of use, but which are not pressingly needed. And you still can't come in.

You do not believe in what they believe in.

Standing at the gates of the tower, you are finally able to convince the people inside that while your beliefs differ, you're both in support of, generally, the same goals in life. Their worries are lessened. However...

You still cannot come in.

At long last, though, and after many days at the gate discussing things with the people inside, enough of them get to know you that they do you a favor and let you in.

And, as you might suspect, even though you have been let in, you're still not 'in' with many of the people inside.

The only thing that got you in was the exposure to and familiarity with you, and the calming of their animal instinct which was finally able to decide that your different-ness was not so bad.

This is an illustration of basic human nature. Mistrust of strangers, exclusion of 'out-group' people, these aren't a surprise. They have served people well enough over time, and as such are commonly employed and simply overlooked or ignored when people stop ponder themselves good or bad beings.

This analogy can be used to illustrate any outsider's view. Any situation where "everyone already does/knows/is A", but you're B.

People from country A disagree with and distrust people from country B. City A, City B. Part of Town A, Part of Town B. This side of the street, that side of the street.

People of race A, race B. Cultural background A, B. Religious belief A, belief B.

Company, School, Team, Tribe, Accent, etc.

This applies to all human behavior in all situations. At face value, it's an obvious, given statement to say that people mistrust strangers. Mistrust strange and new things and ways. All the different ways this piece of human nature can emerge is boggling.

"I can't believe everyone is insensitive to my likings, my background, my culture, my beliefs, my ways."

To the person on the inside, the reaction is "Quit your whining."

To the person on the outside, the reaction is "Screw you."

The truth is, it wouldn't matter to the people on the outside if the people on the inside didn't have something they wanted.

Acceptance. A job. Freedom? Money, food, shelter. Some kind of advantage.

The only solution is to either change so you don't want that thing anymore, or to give in and humor them.

"You have something I want, and I insist that you change such that you will decide to give it to me."

...probably not.

Obviously, if you stop and think about it, you can deal with this any time you encounter adversity. However, most people won't or don't stop to think about it. And thus my analogy.

I don't mean to endorse any side here. It seems there is no other way to represent this.

If you, for example, showed up at the tower and it was full of ignorant idiots who also had the only food and water available, it would behoove you to learn to act like an idiot so you do not starve. Would it not?

If there's another way to look at this, I'd like to know about it.