The Many Ways of Putting Folks in Boxes Labeled “Other“. Radical Bleeding Heart image

Excluders See Enemies Everywhere

Excluders are suspicious of anyone different from themselves or anything not part of their familiar world. People like themselves are “good,” and people who are different, to the extent of that difference, are “bad.” Race, ethnicity, religion, skin-color, language — there are all sorts of ways to place others in an enemy camp.

Not only do they see themselves as “good” and the Others as “bad,” but they perceive fortune and misfortune differently. They also believe in retributive Justice. Thus, their own misfortunes are imposed upon them and are unjust, but the travails of those who are different are the result of poor character and immoral behavior. Poverty is the fault of the poor. They believe, they say, in “independence” and “individual responsibility” (“I'm alright, Jack; if you're not, tough luck!”). They like to think that they stand on their own two feet, without assistance from anyone else, but they also love hierarchy, groveling before their perceived superiors, and lording over those they deem inferior. This is all part of putting people in different categories.

Includers are open to differences. They believe, like St. Paul, that we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25). They are also egalitarians; they like to believe we are all equal.

Excluders, then, tend to be Manicheans and idealists, as well. Good and evil, to them, are not the consequence of actions, but are qualities inherent in people and things. Includers are egalitarians not because they think everyone is the same, but because to them people are neither good nor evil; only consequences are. (More on this later.)

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