When Dehumanization Occurs…

Posted by Slobokan @ 20:56 · 424 words · print

I found an interesting quote while researching a topic for discussion in my behavioral neuroscience course today…

“Dehumanization occurs when one person considers others to be excluded from the moral order of being a human being. It involves the denial of uniquely human attributes and is often accompanied by contempt and disgust and by a tendency to explain others’ behavior in terms of one’s own desires rather than cognitive states. Dehumanization is at the core of human evil, because it depicts a person as less than human” (Reimann & Zimbardo, 2011).

There are many glaring examples of dehumanization in our society; we only have to spend a moment or two watching the evening news to see it. Slavery, genocide, racism, and prostitution are obvious examples, but what about examples of dehumanization on an intimate, personal level? Intentionally or not, we can find ourselves dehumanizing others without much effort.

When we make snide remarks about the rude girl at the coffee counter, the overweight child playing in the neighborhood, or the poor Hispanic person who was reaching out for assistance, we dehumanize them. Remember, dehumanization is at the core of human evil. Whether we intend to dehumanize people or not, we are prone to sin, prone to fall victim to evil.

We must make an extra effort to avoid the process of dehumanization. We must counteract the evil in this world with good. Only by focusing on human dignity and respect for our fellow human beings will we be able to overcome the evil of dehumanization.

So, the next time that girl at the coffee counter gets snippy, respond with a kind comment because you never know what cross she is bearing that day. See that overweight child as a child, not a fat child, not a lazy child, and remember that your words could affect them for the rest of their life. When that Hispanic person reaches out for assistance, help them as you would help Jesus. Rather than making a derogatory remark about how they “could get a job mopping floors or something, because that is what they do”, focus on the love of Christ.

In any and all situations, we should always ask ourselves, “What Would Jesus Do?” The greatest force against evil is love. Jesus tells us that love is our greatest commandment. If we love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, and we love our neighbors as ourselves, then evil will not have a chance and the root of all evil, dehumanization, will wither and die.

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