DEHUMANIZATION – An act or process of undermining or taking away human qualities or human personalities; reducing a human to a single negative characteristic. It’s a mental trick, a disturbingly successful mental trick, that is designed to turn normal and good people into social dominants or superiors. Dehumanizing someone or group can start a cycle of hostility. As the hostility grows, the person who now truly believes they are superior, want punishment or some type of penalty paid by the targeted subject, the subhuman.
It’s scary how very easy and simple it is to play the dehumanize mind trick. All you have to do is take a thin slice of someone’s life and expose that thin slice to someone unfamiliar with the person or group the thin slice is from, use key words that are designed to trigger emotions like anger and hostility and boom you have a people who now feel superior and who are now ready to demand some sort of punishment from the person or group they are superior to.
Does it matter that the key words used to trigger anger are not true or are exaggerated? Absolutely not. Does it matter that the story being told in the dehumanize mind trick hurts innocent people? Absolutely not.
People throughout history have used the dehumanization mind trick. It’s certainly nothing new and the root of it is in profit. The people using the mind trick profit in some form or fashion – whether it is monetary, power or simply an ego boost.
The age of technology and social media has made dehumanization much more prevalent. If something you see on social media touches you in a manner that you feel anger or outrage, you could be the target of the dehumanization mind trick. Case in point – the allegation phrased as a fact of “horrific widespread abuse suffered by Tennessee Walking Horses”. Those posts, images, and videos are all accompanied by words and phrases that designed to make you truly believe that all Tennessee Walking show horses are abused and anger you, anger you to the point that you take action, whether it is to sign a petition, make a monetary donation, join a protest, call your congressman or simply chime in on the post to show your support. Those who take one of these actions are convinced they are superior to the Tennessee Walking show horse owner, exhibitor, trainer or supporter who is evil, vile, soul-less, inbred, thuggish and monstrous and they feel good about themselves because their action will help bring about punishment to the evil monsters.
I’m not here to tell you bad people don’t exist within the Tennessee Walking Horse community. Honestly, bad people exist all over the world, in every walk of life. I am here to tell to you that I don’t personally know a bad person involved in Tennessee Walking horses and what many have seen or read on the internet simply does not accurately represent the Tennessee Walking people. I know. I’ve seen it first hand for years.
For those within the Tennessee Walking horse world, we love our show horses and we’re very proud of them. We like to show them off by posting horse show videos, action photos, photos of victories or simply photos of our beautiful horse doing most anything. I’ve never won a world championship, but I know that I do not love my horse more or less than someone who has. I’m not jealous of those with better horses, nor do I feel superior to those who don’t. The blue ribbons and floral horseshoes or trophies are just the icing on the cake and some of us just have more frosting on their cake than others.
When someone asks me ‘What is it with you and those horses?’, my response is always the same – ‘It’s the versatility of the horse and the diversity of the people. Any time you combine an amazing horse with truly good genuine people, how could anyone resist being a part of that?’
Because of the dehumanization mind trick that has been ongoing for years now, and the resulting all out attack on the Tennessee Walking horse, we shouldn’t still be here as a group showing our horses. But we are. We are because we are a family. We may not always like each other. We may not always appreciate each other. But, we know we can count of each other, in good times and in bad times. We lend a helping hand. We pray for each other. We come together in good times and bad. Our heart breaks when one of ours is grieving. Our hearts rejoice when one of ours gets good news.
We come from all walks of life, different races, different religions, gay and straight, pleasure and performance. The EMT doing CPR on your loved one is one of us. The hospice nurse holding your hand when your loved one passes is one of us. The firefighter fighting the fire that is burning house is one of us. The guy you see on the motorcycle driving by is one of us. The Dad dropping off his kids at school is one of us. The family laughing and eating dinner at the restaurant next to you is us. The teacher who is teaching your child is one of us. The man on the tractor plowing his field is one of us. The person across the room waiting to be seen at the oncologist office is one of us. The person two rows behind you in church is one of us. The hair stylist who cuts your hair is one of us. The contractor who builds your house is one of us. The soccer mom cheering for her child is one of us. The person you see walking their dog in your neighborhood is one of us. The person who found you the perfect house is one of us. The person preaching the gospel is on of us. The mom in the grocery store with her little girl in a tutu or little boy in a cowboy hat is one of us. We are real. We are human. We are Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Sisters, Brothers, Aunts and Uncles. Just because a lie is repeated often, does not make it true.
While we are all targets of the dehumanization mind trick, you are the victim.
As Paul Harvey, legendary radio broadcaster, used to say, “Now, you know the rest of the story”.