Dehumanizing Always Starts With Language | Brené Brown - Deepstash

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Feeling emotionally unsafe

Feeling emotionally unsafe

When people feel emotionally threatened, they are not speaking of getting their feelings hurt or being forced to listen. It is when they experience dehumanizing language and behavior.

Dehumanizing is making someone seem not worthy of humane treatment.

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Dehumanization

Dehumanization has fueled innumerable acts of violence, human rights violations, war crimes, and genocides like slavery, torture and human trafficking.

Groups are depicted as "less than" or evil when they are targeted based on their identity - gender, ideology, skin color, religion or age. The group eventually falls out of the scope of who is protected by our moral code.

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Dehumanizing always starts with language

Dehumanizing always starts with language

Images often follow after language.

  • During the Holocaust, Nazis described Jews as subhuman. Jews were called rats and depicted as disease-carrying rodents - from military pamphlets to children's books.
  • Hutus in the Rwanda genocide called the Tutsis cockroaches. 
  • Serbs called Bosnians aliens.

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How to rehumanize

We can rehumanize in the same way as dehumanizing - with words and images.

  • Be careful when you push the people whom you disagree with into the territory of moral exclusion.
  • Find the face of God in everyone you meet, including politicians, media and strangers.

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Set boundaries

We will all, at some time, experience a real, face-to-face conflict.

Do we have to put up with someone tearing us down or questioning the right to exist? Is there a line that shouldn't be crossed?

The line is usually drawn at physical and emotional safety.

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