Can we ever understand each other?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by dolf250, Oct 15, 2005.

  1. dolf250

    dolf250 New Member

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    I ran across an interesting thought in a book QB 7. It got me thinking that with the diversity of people on this board perhaps it would be an interesting topic.

    “Yet as time stood suspended Gilray was all gentiles who never quite understood Jews. He could befriend them, work with them, but never quite understand them. He was all white men who could never quite understand black men, and all black men who could never quite understand whites. He was all normal men who could tolerate and even defend homosexuals…but never fully understand them. There is in all of us a line that prevents us from fully understanding those who are different.”

    Please keep in mind when the author says “all normal men” that the book was written in 1970. Also, there has been enough race based crap in the various forums lately that I do not really want to start another thread where the main focus is on race. I am trying to figure out if his broad statement that we cannot fully understand those who are different is true. I do not think that we can ever FULLY understand anybody else and I guess that when there is also a different gender, race, religion or orientation involved there would be a slightly wider gap in our understanding of the individual.

    I was willing to accept the general idea until I thought about my grandparents. They tell me that when they arrived from Germany shortly after the war they were almost universally disliked. I began wondering if they could at least in part relate to the early Chinese immigrants. They took the poor jobs, were disliked and though it was not obvious where they were from to look at them, as soon as they started in conversation it would become immediately clear. Is it possible that we can take our experiences and understand other races/religions/genders and their struggles, at least in part?

    Finally, when the author says that “normal” men cannot understand homosexuals, does that work the same with homosexuals never truly getting straight guys? I am willing to concede that men do not “get” women and women do not usually “get” men. However, I am not sure that what we each go through is so different. Genders are more likely to see the situation in a different light than the other, but does that mean that we cannot understand one another?

    I am thinking that perhaps there are so many variables in our experiences that it would not be unreasonable to assume that a gay black man who shares some of the same life experiences (same economic class, same religion, born and raised in the same geographic area) would be more likely to understand who I am than a white straight male. (Say for argument sake, prince William.) A few girls who I know that like brawling at bars, football and beer would probably be no more likely to understand the “princess” next door than would I.

    Anyhow, I just wanted people’s thoughts on the matter.
     
  2. absinthium

    absinthium New Member

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    Every individual person is a little Petri dish boiling over with weird. I doubt I'll ever be able to fully understand the motivations and thought processes of any other given person.

    That's how I ponder things, not people as in groups of them, but just... People.
     
  3. Matthew

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    I agree that within any social group, individuals are individuals and everyone's experience is different. There is no grouping I can think of that is completely monolithic. On the other hand, our race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc., do tend to lead us into some similar experiences with others of the same group.

    I think dolf250 is right that while you can't fully understand what life is like through someone else's eyes, you can try. For me, I definitely have been enriched by the learning what other people's experiences are like, particularly those of people who are very different from me in various ways.

    Also, depending on the country or area where you live, certain cultures or experiences are foregrounded, others backgrounded. For example in this country as in most, heterosexual experience is foregrounded. So while I probably can't fully understand what it's like to be heterosexual, I have a leg up, so to speak, because it's been everywhere around me all my life. I think that for most straight people understanding queer experience takes more conscious effort. Maybe the same can be said of other "groupings" as well.
     
  4. Dr Rock

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    who lives in the east 'neath the willow tree? Sex
    the question you should be asking is "do we really want to?"
     
  5. madame_zora

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    the question you should be asking is "do we really want to?"
    [post=352149]Quoted post[/post]​
    [/b][/quote]


    Dammit, I was gonna say that!

    In all honesty, I think that's the problem. We can't BE that other person, but of course we are capable of understanding them- we just don't try. GOD forbid anyone suggest we do, they are likely to get shot, crucified, or snuffed out in some unglorious manner. Advocates of peace have a very high incidence of violent death.

    People are basically stupid and selfish. To ask them to think beyond "me and mine" is asking more than their ridiculously uncultured pea-sized brains can handle. Fuck the human race, it disgusts me more often than not.
     
  6. GoneA

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    One might argue that the problem lies in our acceptance of one another; as oppossed to our 'literal understanding' of one another.

    To me, somewhat: it's all much of a muchnes.
     
  7. Matthew

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    GoneA, I'll never understand you. ;)
     
  8. GoneA

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    GoneA, I'll never understand you. ;)
    [post=352182]Quoted post[/post]​
    [/b][/quote]

    **Bottom lip quivers, tears begin to trickle**

    "And that's something I"ll have to live with, Matthew. And that's something I'll have to live with." :nopity:
     
  9. madame_zora

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    **Bottom lip quivers, tears begin to trickle**

    "And that's something I"ll have to live with, Matthew. And that's something I'll have to live with." :nopity:
    [post=352189]Quoted post[/post]​
    [/b][/quote]


    Well played, gentlemen.
     
  10. dlcs

    dlcs New Member

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    Dammit, I was gonna say that!

    In all honesty, I think that's the problem. We can't BE that other person, but of course we are capable of understanding them- we just don't try. GOD forbid anyone suggest we do, they are likely to get shot, crucified, or snuffed out in some unglorious manner. Advocates of peace have a very high incidence of violent death.

    [post=352162]Quoted post[/post]​
    [/b][/quote]

    Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr...
    if you think about it, the very first advocate of peace in the world was (to quote the late great Douglas Adams) "nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to other people for a change."

    And that line comes from a man who declared himself the ultimate Atheist. Makes you think...
     
  11. Love-it

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    "Viva la difference." How boring it would be if we were alike and understood one another. What would we do for discourse?
     
  12. GoneA

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    Watch television in place, of course. Wait....
     
  13. DC_DEEP

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    Ah, I wondered how far I would have to read before someone made this assertion. That is part of the problem Dolf addressed. Why would you assume that "understanding" is the same as "homogenizing?" One of my best friends is a straight female, and she and I understand each other very thoroughly - but neither of us has any desire to be the other. I have friends who are devout catholics, but understanding me does not make them give up their faith, and me understanding them does not make me want to be a christian. Our differences, and understanding of those differences, is what keeps our friendships alive and exciting.

    I agree with absinthium - I doubt that any one individual can completely and totally "understand" any other individual. I also believe, though, that complete blending or total isolationism are both bad ideas.
     
  14. Dr. Dilznick

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    All I know is hell hath no fury like a black woman spurned by her Negroid mate in favor of a pink toe. She could be as liberal as they come, some ole volunteering, We Are The World, feeding the motherfucking homeless--church girl, but if you leave her for a white girl, the true nature of human competition and group mentality emerges and you might ass well move to the West Bank as this bitch will make everyday a potential terroristic nightmare. Sugar in your gas tank, prank calls, secrets aired, your mama harassed, you can't walk the office parking lot at night without a co-worker because her ass pops out like Freddy from time to time. All this from a woman who works at KinderCare.
     
  15. Dr. Dilznick

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    "Ghandi thought black people were subhuman"
    [/b][/quote]
    One can hardly fault him for that. It is a well-established fact that the Negro is a flawed creature.

    :thumbsup: Ghandi
     
  16. Dr Rock

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    I think you'll find that people are generally pretty good at segregating themselves - the whole problem is that they get carried away with it. :eyes:
     
  17. GoneA

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    That sounds pretty subjective
     
  18. naughty

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    Workin' up a good pot of mad!

    LOL!

    Now, you know I dont want to laugh at this comment! LOL! Unfortunately, I have seen this happen and I think that there is so much that goes into why this happens that we are not going to discuss on this board. I also dont think it is only in the case of black women that you see this happen. Borderline personality disorder as well as limerance can bring this out in people of any race, creed, nationality or socio economic group. When someone is abandoned for something they can not control it doesnt tend to bring out their best qualities.

    Naughty
     
  19. Matthew

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    LOL, yes, the revulsion to miscegenation is universal. ;)
    [post=352387]Quoted post[/post]​
    [/b][/quote]
    Only in your own little personal universe, dude.
     
  20. madame_zora

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    Only in your own little personal universe, dude.
    [post=352390]Quoted post[/post]​
    [/b][/quote]


    Ah, it's all about insecurity and fear. There are many people in all walks of life that choose to live this way. To that end, I really can't disagree with Chimera, I just hold it as insane that we should promote it rather than trying to cure it. Intense stupidity should not be supported even if it is prevalent in the majority.
     
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