The same understanding of differences – if not acceptance – goes for subgroups within nations. I’m part of the environment-loving, mollycoddling group of so-called experts, who would like to “protect” the environment by reducing car travel (ie. wrecking the lives of county-folk), reduce crime by rehabilitation (too soft on crime), and think that policy needs careful analysis (meaning apparently I know better than the people). Some other people are – from my bubble perspective – country-loving idiots who just want to have the state pay for their lifestyle, even though obviously we can’t have a university hospital in every village. Now, everybody is wrong here, and that’s fine. Just one beautiful part of being a human: identifying with your tribe and mischaracterizing the others.
However, what really is interesting is this: we are bad at recognizing the change in the norms of our society. Standards can change, and they will. They will change in ways that you won’t foresee or expect. To take an example, let’s go back to the year 1937.
In 1937, Sylvan Goldman tried to get people in his supermarket to use his new invention - shopping carts. He thought having carts on wheels would make shopping a lot easier. However, customers rejected the new carts, and didn’t want to use them. Why? Because the carts were deemed to be unmasculine. What? But how is shopping related to masculinity?
When I read about this, I felt like I’m reading a science fiction book. The norm of masculinity that disallows a shopping cart is just…unrecognizable. And it’s not that far away in terms of years. But just somehow, we’ve transitioned from the shopping-carts-are-unmanly norm to a time where pushing shopping carts (or even strollers!) is ok for men, even for fun. Who would’ve known? (Well, Goldman did and made millions out of it).
Anyway, next time you find yourself thinking “well, that’s never going to be acceptable”, remember shopping carts.