Letters to the Editor

It’s easier to discount others' ideas than empathize

What is with this term “sheeple?” Don’t get me wrong, I understand what it means—that people are blindly and unthinkingly following a person or ideology. It also implies that the person doing the following is none too bright. It is a derogatory term by definition and used to marginalize those with whom the user doesn’t agree. Although I have seen it used mostly by those on the political right, I believe it is used by both ends of the political spectrum.

Perhaps its use is a defense mechanism. If you lump people into a herd, refer to them by an animal-like name and infer that they are stupid, then you can discount anything they might have to say and thus avoid listening to anything that takes you out of your comfort zone. After all, if you listen to another person, you may find common ground or sympathize with their plight; they become humanized in your eyes and harder to shove off into the corral of indifference.

The act of dialog—not shouting, mind you, but talking and listening—should not be seen as a sign of weakness or disloyalty in today’s world, but I fear that is the case. It’s much easier to shut out (or is it, “out shout?”) those with whom you don’t agree and wallow in an “us versus them” mentality than to work toward compromise and mutual goals for a strong nation and the betterment of the world.

Shirley Bomgaars


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