November 10, 2004

Perceptions of "Jesusland."

Here is another email I found interesting:
I was in a meeting today, and a man was talking about an urban renewal event he went to. He praised cities highly but spoke with some heat about how awful suburbs are and how they're destroying everything, etc. I couldn't help but think of the Kerry-Bush divide, city people vs. country people. This man voted for Kerry and doesn't much like Bush. He even had sitting out that list of states ranked according to IQ, the one that says the smart people voted for Kerry and the dumb ones for Bush. It occurred to me how everthing is connected: cities, Kerry, smart, good... country, Bush, dumb, bad. I wish folks could see that city living and country living each have their strengths and dangers, just like Kerry and Bush each have their good points and weaknesses.
The human mind sorts through information efficiently, not in a way that is fair, but in a way that enables the organism to get through life on a basic level reasonably successfully. This is also the mechanism of prejudice, and we all have this mechanism going for us. We'd be hopelessly stymied at every decisionmaking point if we did not have it. Yet we must also develop the consciousness that we do have it, and the ability to override it when we should. Often we are better at perceiving when other people stick too much with their prejudices than we are at seeing how much of what we think is mere prejudice. The "Jesusland" response to the election is a classic example of blindly indulging one's own prejudice in the process of perceiving prejudice in others. Ironically, the central prejudice maintained by the propagators of the "Jesusland" meme is that they are smart and the others are dumb.

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