Othering, the practice of diminishing a person or people into being less than human thereby unworthy of respect, dignity and all too often life, is growing in America. Whether it is the idea, disturbingly prominent, that a black man carrying a weapon does not deserve to survive a traffic stop, or that the claim that a man with a badge is a bigger threat to his community than the actual criminals, divisions in America are as strong, if not stronger than ever.
We have Americans killing Americans because of who and how they love. We have Americans killing Americans because of the tone of their skin. We have Americans killing Americans because their head gear looks like the head gear of other Americans that wear head gear like people over in the Middle East.
There is a thought that maybe these incidents are not more numerous than in the past, it may even be true. But we know about them now. They aren't hidden. Our smaller world exists because of 24-hour news, the internet and social media. Now these victims are not people in a far-off land only accessible via telegraph and train ride.
These tragedies are view-able in real-time. The video evidence can be immediately picked apart, analyzed and the victims be raised up, or pushed down to fit our own worldviews. We immediately see one element as the "other." Their deaths are justified in disgusting ways. They are not one of us.
Unfortunately, too often being "not one of us" is seen as enough of a reason for violence, or the glorification and defense of violence.
We ride through the blighted part of town reading headlines about the crime there, but it isn't us. We wouldn't stop there. We certainly will not work to improve those lives. A mosque is burned, and since it isn't us we ignore it, maybe someone makes a joke about donating pork. The gay man with a bit of makeup on is beaten outside a club, just days after dozens are murdered, but he isn't me and he's alive, so it doesn't become a trending topic. A young lady in a tiny dress gets groped and grabbed, without any consent. But it's not a big deal, right? She's just a girl who dresses for your enjoyment, and so later it goes from being groped and grabbed to raped. Her lack of consent is washed over, because she's one of those kinds of girls.
While this may seem absurd, but one just need head to the unmoderated parts of the internet. You will see these defenses of villainy and heinous crimes celebrated.
We can do a small amount to change that type of attitude here. In essence it means that celebrating violence and death is wrong. Being intentionally demeaning and diminishing doesn't just hurt people emotionally. It creates an environment where violence against them is accepted, and later celebrated.
Our unifying principle on Newsvine is simple. This principle of respect is in many ways related to the essence of what it means to be American.
Above All Else, Respect Others
This fundamental component of the Code of Honor is a recognition that the community of Newsvine is opt-in. If you are willing to treat others with respect they will help you understand your worldview better, even if you do not understand theirs. By treating those that are different than you with respect you get smarter here.
By becoming and continuing to be a corner of the internet where our real world communities are set aside for brief moments of time we recognize that the Other is really just the Us. They may have similar solutions, or see different problems, but there is a togetherness in noble ideas.
As an American, and I recognize that not all of our readers are American, we are also founded on some noble ideas.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
e pluribus unum | annuit cœptis | novus ordo seclorum
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
We have different answers on how to achieve and/or maintain these goals. Some see the answer in bigger government, others in local action; some look to non-profits, others think corporations can help.
A more perfect Union
From many, one
Unalienable Rights such as Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
Your fellow American is not an other. They are not worthy of death. By merely existing they are one of us, and deserving of simple things like the Blessings of Liberty. By being American, by being a human in America, they deserve Justice and domestic Tranquility.
These are not Conservative or Liberal ideals. They are American ideals.
In some ways they are similar to Newsvine's ideal - Above all else, respect others.
Our assumption is for respect. It isn't earned. You are worthy of respect from day one. You are not an other. No matter your race, your creeds, your nationality, your faith, you sexuality - you are respected.