Dehuminization of one’s enemies bleeds us all

When one thinks of an enemy, one should not think of them as less than human. Calling them slurs or railing against them, calling them trash helps to dehumanize them. It makes it easier to harm them. I get it. But it is a mistake.

When we dehumanize our enemies we erode our sense of their capabilities. We convince ourselves by rote comparison that because they are trash, they couldn’t or wouldn’t take a action or make a plan or think a thought. It narrows our view of what is possible and doing so narrows our options to combat them.

An enemy who is thought of as human can be seen as having all of the same complexity as we do. When making plans, one must take into account that there will be counter moves and unanticipated actions. Seeing them as equal to yourself allows for these actions to be at least counted if not accounted for.

Tactically, it is the right course.
But, it is also the correct course for our mental well-being. When we dehumanize, the consequences of our actions ‘in the moment’ become easier. However, when we have time to think later, those mental gymnastics have real world consequences. Either by cutting yourself off from your emotions or by making empathy for your fellow humans much harder.

The best course is to think of everyone as a feeling, thinking, equal person, First. And anything else that they may be second. It’s a hierarchical way of thinking that may be difficult but it helps. Because there is also the flip side. When we contemplate moving against them, we no longer see them in the position or place they are in, rather we see them as human. And humans are fragile.

In the end, thinking of your enemies as human also forces you to think of everyone as human. This helps. In many everyday ways. It also helps to realize that the things we tell ourselves about ourselves and each other have real emotional and rational impact on how we view the world and ourselves. Discounting this leads to underestimation. And the downfall of self.