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Dehumanization




What's really happening here? We are dehumanizing a whole civilization by desensitizing people to evil. When you dehumanize people, it changes the way they treat each other. People begin to debase each other, rather than ennobling each other. For example, brutality debases us, while love and respect ennoble us. Do we live in a society of love and respect or a society of brutality? The question itself is unsettling. The answer is not binary, but still, too much of our society is engaged in various forms of brutality to dismiss the question.

We sterilize every form of brutality by placing it at a distance and depersonalizing it. We prefer hypothetical and philosophical discussions about evil to personal exploration of the topic. But the effects of evil are always deeply personal.

Rape is one of the most brutal acts a person can experience, and one of the most dehumanizing, and it has been increasingly depicted on television.


One in six women in America has been a victim of rape. This is just one statistic. There are dozens that could be cited, one more disturbing than the last. But statistics are cold and distant. They allow us to place evil at a distance. So let me say it another way. One in six of our daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers have been raped.


It is also worth noting that the rape of a male is virtually nonexistent on television, making this particular form of brutality and dehumanization almost exclusively aimed at women in entertainment. The word itself should give us pause: entertainment. Rape as a form of entertainment. Isn’t that what we are talking about in the context of television, movies, and books? Annihilating the dignity of women in this way goes virtually unchallenged.


This is just one example. Evil is real and much closer than we want to acknowledge. But I have never heard of anyone winning a war by pretending they weren’t on the battlefield. Until evil touches us in an inescapably personal way, we either don’t think of it at all or we think of it as something distant.

Matthew Kelly

From Life is Messy

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