Generalizations are Generally Wrong (Reprise)

I will make one generalization here:  The black people I know personally here in Upstate South Carolina, amazingly do not seem to alter their sense of self-worth in response to how they are treated.  I have been in the company of black people when they were dismissed, ignored, and summarily rejected for no reason other than their color.  That, to me, reflects a deep sense of true worth, likely stemming from their intimacy with God.  Those of us who have not known the extent of oppression and animosity that they have known, would do well to learn from them.

I am re-posting this because …well, I think it is worth re-stating.

(March 17, 2016)

I think it is safe to say that, for the most part, generalizations are wrong.  Now, notice I said “for the most part;” that is intentional because whenever I fail to include phrases like “for the most part,” “usually,” “some,” “almost always,” etc., I almost always make a fool of myself.

When people are in a hurry to make a point, they often use generalizations; politicians and others with agendas, do this a lot.  But, usually, what they say is inaccurate, if not flat out wrong, and usually mean-spirited.  For example, if I were to say “all Pit Bulls are mean and dangerous,” I know at least three people who would straighten me out.  I might be better off by saying something like,”all Pit Bulls have the potential to be mean and dangerous, especially if they have been mistreated or trained to be that way,” but I have used 7 words in the first statement and 23 in the second; too many words for a politician or a mother whose child has been mauled by a Pit Bull.

Now, to be fair, some generalizations are true, particularly when they are simply restating the subject or are simplifying the definition: All pine trees are trees; All black cats are cats, All white people are people, All General Motors cars are cars, etc.  (My son could probably argue with that last point but I’ll leave that up to him.)

Sometimes, what you may think is a re-statement of the subject is, in fact, a fallacy  (“a mistaken belief, especially one based on unsound argument,” a definition provided by Google.)  For example, a lot of people think Christians are automatically followers of Jesus; Not so.  One can be a Christian and not be a follower of Jesus just as one can follow Jesus but not be a Christian.  There are similar misconceptions about Christians being ‘nice’ people, or ‘church people’ being ‘good people;’  I daresay, a large percentage of them are but I have also been told that, “Church people can be some of the meanest people in the world.”  Notice, that observer included the words “can be” rather than ‘always are.’

It is not nice to make untrue generalizations about people; remember, God don’t like ugly. In fact, it is downright dangerous in an eternal sense, because number 9 of the Ten Commandments, says:

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

I don’t think I need to enlighten you that “your neighbor” means ‘everybody else but you;’  That includes people of your own race, as well as all people of all other races.  Now, before you hit the reply button I want to include what says about races:

“Although all races share over 99% of the same genetic material, the classification and division of races is largely subjective, and all races belong to the same species – Homo sapiens. Scientifically, races are defined as a group of people that are separated and grouped together due to the fact that they have common inherited traits that distinguishes them from other groups.

“The notion of race is also divided based on geographic separation, social and cultural differences and distinguished physical differences. Human typologies are commonly differentiated based on the following physical axes:

    • skin color
    • hair texture
    • jaw size
    • facial angle
    • cranial capacity
    • frontal lobe mass
    • brain mass
    • brain surface fissures
    • body lice

“These physical attributes do not necessarily have a strong correlation with genetic variations. As a result, the United Nations has opted to drop the term “race” and replace it with “ethnic groups” instead. According to a 1998 study published in the Scientific American, there are more than 5,000 ethnic groups in the world.”

(body lice?)

That’s a lot of people who are different from each other.  However, they are ALL “your neighbor.”  If you don’t believe me, ask God.

Like I said before, people with agendas like to make generalizations about people who are different from them…politicians, especially, because they are short on time…or short on something.  For example, when he said that,

“When Mexico (meaning the Mexican Government) sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you (pointing to the audience). They’re not sending you (pointing again). They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people!”

…at least Donald qualified that SOME are good people.  That’s what I am suggesting; we should avoid making generalizations by including qualifiers, like “some.”

(I would like to add, Donald, that if those are SOME of your “best words,” dear, I suggest you consider taking a vow of silence.)

Unfortunately, I grew up hearing a lot of non-qualified generalizations…particularly about black people, but also about Jewish people, as well as Asians and Native Americans.  I recall hearing the explanation that”all black people are bad; that’s why God made them black.”  (What?!?)  First of all, I never understood what was meant by “bad.”  Were they bad drivers?  bad spellers?  I don’t think that’s what was meant.  I think it meant that they were inherently dishonest, corrupt, and dangerous.    And, he was wrong, incorrect, inaccurate, and, to be fair, probably spoke out of fear.

Before I go any farther, I have never known, personally, a black person who was ‘bad.’  The black people I have known personally, from the time I was a child to the present, and I mean people I have known well…people I worked with for 22 years on a daily basis, for example…have been kind, generous, polite, friendly, helpful, honest, trustworthy, decent, not dangerous…all those descriptions I use when referring to people who are ‘good.’  I met one young black man in the hospital last year whom I would not trust, but I did not know him well, and based on his words and actions, I don’t think anyone would trust him.  Black people I meet on a daily basis down here in Anderson, South Carolina, have been … without exception … gracious, polite, courteous, and when I pass on information about my writing, they usually say, “Thank you, ma’am.,” which to me shows good manners and up-bringing.  Those who seem to be unapproachable, also seem to be preoccupied and upset about something, probably unrelated to me.

To lighten the tone a bit, I have been a victim of car-ism; my son warned me that when I bought my little blue wonder car, that I would probably receive rude reactions from people. The non-qualified generalization is that BMW drivers are rude, pushy, and snobbish.  Well, I have taken it as a personal goal to prove the generalization to be a fallacy:  I let other cars pull out in front of me (unless I’m racing), I never cut anyone off (unless I am racing), I wave to other drivers (especially, when I am racing), and I try to not kick up too much dust (in the face of those with whom I am racing.)  BTW, I never race when there are pedestrians around…and, I have yet to be beaten. ;->

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

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