A Line in the Wilderness – As You Were

As You Were – looking for connections between the work of Brené Brown and Daniel Quinn as I revisit them in book clubs. See the introductory post for what this is all about. In this post, I look at:

(Commissions earned on Amazon links.)

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Four – People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In.

“When we deny ourselves the right to be angry, we deny our pain.” Connects with Quinn’s critique of civilization denying realities about what it means to be human.

“Where is the line? Is there a line in the wilderness between what behavior is tolerable and what isn’t? The reward may be great, but do I have to put up with someone tearing me down or questioning my actual right to exist? Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed? The answer is yes.” Quinn shows how dehumanization is itself a function of civilization, not the wilderness. Tribal cultures do not think that everyone should be like them or that, if people refuse to be like them, they are less than human and deserve destruction. Tribal cultures have strong and healthy boundaries. On some level, Taker civilization has it backwards — seeing itself as having many borders within, seeing the wilderness as a single chaotic mass, failing to recognize the countless boundaries within the wilderness that are in fact far more meaningful and real while its own are usually far more blurry and dysfunctional if they exist at all.

“… they were talking about dehumanizing language and behavior… dehumanization is a response to conflicting motives. We want to harm a group of people, but it goes against our wiring as a social species to actually harm, kill, torture, or degrade other humans… ‘Dehumanization is a way of subverting those inhibitions.'” Taker culture needs to keep itself in this dysfunctional polarization in order to be what it is.

“Once we see people on ‘the other side’ of a conflict as morally inferior and even dangerous, the conflict starts being framed as good versus evil.” Brené and Quinn share a deep critique of either/or thinking, and Quinn specifically critiques Taker culture’s belief that it understands good and evil.

“The point is that we are all vulnerable to the slow and insidious practice of dehumanizing, therefore we are all responsible for recognizing it and stopping it.” Echoes various things Quinn says that empower individuals to effect change instead of believing that change is something that can only come from people and institutions in particularly special positions of power.

“We must never tolerate dehumanization — the primary instrument of violence that has been used in every genocide recorded throughout history.” Quinn points out very clearly how genocide has always been inherent to Taker culture from the very start.

“In addition to the courage to be vulnerable, and the willingness to practice our BRAVING skills, moving closer means we need tools for navigating conflict.” When Quinn describes tribal laws, he is essentially saying it’s at the very heart of a tribal culture to have such tools. They are not some extra that can be lacking in life and then is to be learned as a sort of add-on.

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