If you absolutely must rely on generalizations to feel safe in your relationships with others, at least try not to use blunt instruments like gender, skin color, affiliation with major world religions, or nationality. If you must hem your pants don’t use a crosscut saw. At least try to find some scissors.

Generalizations are a kind of bookmaking game. You figure the odds when dealing with large groups of people. How many evil parts per million are there, you ask, in a group of light-skinned people or German people or Christians or men? In reality we mostly relate to small groups of humans. One to five in number. One man, say, in a turban on a train platform on a Wednesday afternoon. Why lump him into a group when you could talk to him and evaluate him with the infinite granularity of relationship?

Let us consider giving individuals the benefit of the doubt. If bookmaking is your human relations game, okay. Then go with the odds. Because the odds that the person you meet will be at least harmless and perhaps even good are greatly in your favor.

Or what price are you willing to pay, when the currency is the lives of others, in order to feel a little safer in the moment?

Follow me here: