Many human issues are systemic, not individual

Let’s talk about bitches. I don’t mean basic bitches or bad bitches, just bitches. Assholes. Dicks. I have a burning question to ask: why do we hate them?

See, my sister brought this topic up to me once. When someone has a physical or mental handicap, we readily accommodate them. If this girl is hearing impaired, we make sure she sits up front and has a transcript. If that boy has ADHD, we give him extra time for coursework. But how come we don’t do the same for someone with a sour personality? Just as you don’t choose to be gay, bitches don’t pop out of the womb thinking, “Hey, I wanna have an abrasive personality that makes people dislike me!” If anything, they’re just as much a product of their circumstances as anyone else. So why can’t we look past individual actions and see a long-running problem that needs to be solved? And that’s just on the small scale. Disliking a person for who they are—the summation of their experiences and perspectives—is only the tip of the iceberg.

My friend Cole talked to me about prisons and the way the justice system prescribes problems as individual. On the larger scale, society tends to incriminate individual actions. If a terrorist shoots up a mall, we perceive him as an agent of evil; somehow, he is solely responsible for that act of violence. And then we resolve the issue by punishing him. But what does that accomplish? Does punishment teach him what he did wrong and fix this dysfunction in society? And what experiences and thoughts led him to do it in the first place? In many ways, our current social dialogue surrounding liability and justice is a band-aid solution for dysfunction that is not individually born, but systemically propagated.

Cole and I talked about education as the solution. Education promotes understanding: an equal basis in knowledge and rationality makes disputes and compromises easier to handle. And an enforced standard of socialization—through ethics and a healthy foundation for human interaction—can help build healthier individuals. Obviously, it’s a long time coming. There’s no such thing as utopia, but we can strive for better. Humanity’s gone through so much to get to this point. And if we keep moving forward, maybe we can rework the way that we deal with each other and our shortcomings.