Trigger words and our illogical reasoning (Blog posts)
We all have a tendency to develop associated feelings with inanimate things and living beings based on our experiences related to them. From topics as simple as a particular foodstuff of which a bad experience can put you off for life, to our thoughts and feelings with regards to people, religions, nations and pretty much everything. It isn’t uncommon to find that as individuals, we form an array of diverse opinions, but often if we assess our reasoning for why we’ve reached some of our conclusions, there too is a range in how informed and justified they are.
This is actually of great importance, though we may not often see it. When it comes to more trivial concepts, such as, for example, me not liking a comedy series on television (lets call it sitcom A) and basing it on having watched just the first few episodes, the implications of this aren’t significant in daily living and our dealings in the real world. Perhaps it was not a fair conclusion to have reached given that it was based on negative experiences in the early episodes, which may have affected my judgement for the whole series. It was also unfair to draw the conclusion based on how few episodes I’d watched. It would be even more illogical for me to dismiss another unrelated series because of an attribution of it with my bad experiences with sitcom A. But, what does it matter, it’s only my opinion on a television series.
Where am I going with this? Our irrational attributions from which we draw illogical conclusions from different, not mutually exclusive categories. Our own ignorance and closed-mindedness, which we often fail to acknowledge, and I can draw from many examples in my own life as I am sure we all can. An example: for some of us the word ‘Jew’ or ‘Muslim’ has formed stereotypes based on our experiences which are reactionary and emotive, but more importantly largely unreasonable and based on an association in which the generalization is not only untrue, but sometimes even a paradox.
If you speak to some Muslims, for instance, and mention Jews, it is not uncommon that there is hostility in their tone. Likewise, you ask a common individual subjected to the media on their perception of Islam, they too may hold much negativity towards it. I speak as a Muslim and can say that it is true that in many cases we do ourselves no favours in the image portrayed (that’s for another blog post) but my point is, how were these conclusions reached, and who is the real issue with?
Often when there is hostility towards a Jew from the Muslim world, their issue is not actually with Judaism. Rather, most of their reasoning is based on the oppression of Muslims by Israel. Yet, not all Jews support the state of Israel. Furthermore, not all Israelis are Jews. By attributing the feeling of enmity to Jews because of the hostility that is based on a politically driven movement that affiliates with religion is completely irrational, and yet it is very common.
The same goes for the perception of Islam. Assuming September 11th was due to these Muslim extremists that carried out the attacks, the attribution of Islam with terror is still just as nonsensical. The real issue is not Islam, but with these offshoots, who are condemned mostly by the Muslim world. You have to look at what the individual actually represents as well as whatever they claim to represent as it is very possible the two are completely at odds with each other.
Look at the core teachings of Islam, and of Judaism, and you will find that the principles are very much contradictory to the terror that they are associated with, supporting patience, tolerance, peace. There are sadly endless examples of how these associations feed into our prejudice, when it comes to racism and discrimination of any kind. We often don’t give people or groups a chance because of our misunderstandings, our own generalisations, rather than because of the individuals or groups themselves.
It’s very often the case that for many of us we approach topics with closed minds, and we are in fact not addressing the same issues we think we are, channeling our feelings with absurd reasoning towards a separate group that may or may not have some associations with whatever it is we really take issue with. It’s more constructive to not express an opinion, than to express opinions based on misinformed, irrational, emotive responses. This lack of willingness to educate ourselves and take consideration as to how we articulate our points only causes more hostility. For many of us, our problem isn’t only with lexicon. We need to change our attitudes, as well as our choice of words.