We made this monster.

A note for today: Thinking about the political landscape right now, I am disheartened by how easy it is to use demonization of others to promote a cause, and how willing people are to do it.

The mess we see in the US political system right now (and in many other countries as well!) is a direct result of people’s willingness to demonize one another to gain money, followers, and power.

It works because people do unite behind a common enemy, so if I tell you that Group X is evil and wants to destroy your way of life unless you support my cause, you’re much more likely to support my cause. But it comes at a cost: that demonization becomes a disease that infects the whole culture, and once it gets started, it’s very hard to stop. What starts as a hyperbolic polarization to win supporters can end with violence, discrimination, broken communities, and an unwillingness on all sides to work together to make things better.

We make these monsters. To stop them, we have to learn how to see the humanity of even the people we most strongly disagree with.

Update: I’ve got some suggestions for how we can do it.