37.

I should really start writing earlier in the day. When I postpone it to the end of the day, I not only have it on my mind for the whole day, which is annoying, but I also tend to neglect it entirely. Besides, doing routine stuff early gives me a boost for the whole rest of the day, which is nice.

I recently had a naive thought. I was side-eyeing a video (I wouldn't call it watching, I was half-awake and still in bed) where feminists had a discussion with men's rights activists. It was quite heated although not uncivil, and I started wondering: why is gender such a difficult subject for people? What is there to discuss? Aren't we all just people and shouldn't we just treat each other as people, end of story? I know, naive. First of all, because I know and acknowledge the many difficulties that women and men face because of their gender. Gendered expectations are a thing, and (speaking just for myself here) I know that even men face them. Men are expected to be strong and stoic, to be the rock that the woman can rely on, to be the breadwinner, the rational one, the dependent one. Women, of course, probably face greater problems, yet I don't want to go into that too deeply because I don't have any first-hand experience with that. Nevertheless, I do hate the expectation of wearing make-up every single day. Screw that, seriously. These expectations are problematic and deserve attention. Anyways, my thought was naive for another reason too. I was actually presuming that I'm somehow not a proponent of these expectations and stereotypes. As if I see all people as people only, regardless of gender, age, skin color, clothes, etc. That might be an ideal, but it's not reality. I do, subconsciously, react differently to women than to men. I like to think that I have no biases or stereotypes, but I don't think that's really true. And I'm not saying that that's a problem necessarily. After all, biases are just shortcuts for our brain. Processing every person as if it's the first person you ever see would be exhausting, it would fry your brain in a matter of minutes. So we need these shortcuts. We just have to make sure that these shortcuts are helpful and humanizing, instead of overly reductive and harmful. That "just" in the previous sentence is a very, very optimistic "just", because this is not easy at all. This is basically what the entire project of tolerance and openness is about. Rewriting our personal and collective biases so that they're not harmful to large groups of people. I do see that most people are really trying, though, and that makes me happy. I'm also trying.

Yet I wonder something else. Can we actually change our way of thinking so that we don't divide the world into 'us' and 'them'? Can we make the entire world one big 'us'? I'm an optimist and an idealist, so I'd really like to think that we can. But it would be an enormous shift. For our entire evolution, from when we still had fins until the present day, we've learned to form groups of trusted individuals and to distrust everyone else. Ingroup good, outgroup bad. Those ingroups have been gradually expanding over the course of history; we could now say that our entire country is our ingroup, and Europe is even attempting to make the entire continent our ingroup. Yet it's still an ingroup, and every ingroup is defined by contradiction to the outgroup. What if there is no more outgroup? Can there still be a group? Can we unite as the entire population of planet Earth, if we have no one to fight? Us against what? Space? Greenhouse heat death? That's the kind of shift that's drastically needed, in my opinion, if we are to truly tackle the problems facing us today. But if we can... I'm really not sure.

As a start, I can recommend everyone to watch the short documentary The Overview Effect. It shows that astronauts who have gotten a look at Earth from space, start seeing Earth differently. They realize that Earth is one, and that it is tiny and so so fragile in the vast nothingness of space. Let that be a start.


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