Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Distinction without a Difference

Particularity is not a feature which appeals to everyone. Taking the broader view of life and its events is for some more healthful.  I prefer to distinguish precision from what many characterize as painful meticulousness. Having said that, I will however admit that very often the substance of detail can prove to be more common than quirky. On one level the identification of dissimilarity is useless - such as weather you look better in long or short hair.  For one thing, the hair will eventually grow back or can be cut again; for another, no one really gives a damn.

In a similar vein the importance of travel is sometimes overrated.  Bearing in mind the adage that there ain't no ship to take you away from yourself, the significance of one venue over another commands reasoned analysis. I recently heard it said that some acquaintances of mine were bored on their latest venture to Europe. The observation startled me - particularly when one of the specific condemnations was that there were only three television channels where they were.  If nothing else this affirms the strength of that adage about getting beyond oneself. In addition however it further asserts the truth that being on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean is no assurance that there is any palpable contrast. Here the thesis is more that the traveler is boring, not that travel is boring.

Before anyone gets their nose too high in the air, it is best to recall that certain variations are for each of us not outstanding. We may for example be unmoved by another's endless declamation of a particular spice, sauce or cut of beef. One could go on and on about the distinction between one thing or another - whether cars, furniture, art or architecture - but in the end the inevitable conclusion is it doesn't really matter, either because the variance is trifling or because it all boils down to personal choice.

So much of the fallacy of logic arises from one party's attempt to avoid a connotation. Attempting to legitimize the difference based on anything other than personal inclination is otherwise dangerous and definitely misleading. The error can extend to important considerations such as race, religion, sexuality and politics. Given the current polarized opinions in western democracies it is a caution to examine whether what divides us are distinctions without a difference. Neither is it purely a question of resolving how to get to the same end - whether health care or education or equality - if we persist in attaching harmful connotations to one or the other - whether capitalism or socialism.

Years ago I heard the amusing quip that there are two kinds of people who will not try new food: children and the uneducated. It illustrates a warning about those who harbour inalterable positions; namely, they may lack significant experience or knowledge. One mustn't be persuaded by age, position or status when assessing the qualification of someone to make important decisions. Almost any vernacular - whether rich or poor, young or old, white or black, male or female - is frequently dominated by biases which have no support in either logic or fact.  Too often those who are challenged by differences prefer to sustain distinctions which don't actually exist. They may feel threatened somehow or under attack commercially; more often than not however the ardency is nothing more than a disguise for shallowness. It follows that someone who is sure of themselves does not feel under attack - especially by the mere possibility of change. Let us not forget that the majority of change is mere chatter; and that its likelihood of material evolution requires years.

I may have misdirected the thesis of my account by indirectly relating the analysis of difference to a prediction of change. This was intended only as a collateral to the more important observation that so many of our purported differences are in fact those without distinction. By acknowledging the similarity of our divergences we reduce the separation and gap between us. When once we eliminate the chasm between us we are better positioned to confront what needs to be done.

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