Othering (n) – treating people from another group as essentially different from and generally inferior to the group you belong to
For the longest time, we humans have only operated in small tribes of a handful of individuals. This is still true of every other species in the world today, which are either solitary or operate in small groups. The older parts and more animalistic parts of our brain draw a tight circle around what we consider “our group”.
With the cognitive revolution, our brains grew rapidly and gave us the ability to imagine, to craft stories and organize ourselves in ever larger numbers. This is certainly a step forward from the warring bands of our ancestors. We have never had a more peaceful time in human history than we do today.
And yet, these tendencies that are wired deep within our brain – our tendency to indulge in othering, surface from time to time. And when they do, they manifest as elitism, and selfish immigration policy. The term ‘racism’ is our attempt to call out this tendency – to name it, identify it and recognize it.
When we draw larger circles of inclusion, we are pushing forward by harnessing the most evolved parts of our identity as a species. Every line segment, regardless of if it is a kilometer long or a centimeter long, can be extended infinitely on either side. The same line segment can also be divided indefinitely.
Inclusion inspires us to look past ourselves as individuals, fraternities, tribes, castes, classes and countries. Exclusion is a means to move in the opposite direction and divide ourselves into oblivion.