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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 07-Sep-12

 


Friday 07-September-12

Don't name the pig

I was talking with a friend recently who told me that a friend of his would keep a pig. It's an old tradition and a very ecological one too. The pig is a waste converter: you feed it your scraps and it turns them into meat. At one time, many families would keep a pig at the end of the garden. The meat would then be preserved as salted pork and bacon to help them survive the harsh winters.

The problem, however was that they gave the pig a name.

What's wrong with that, you might ask. The real problem came when it came time to kill the pig. They couldn't. Poor old Doris. They look at her and she looked back. And they couldn't do it. I suspect they still have her.

If you name a pig, then you humanize it. And when you humanize it, you'll have great problems when it comes time to kill and eat it. It's like murder and cannibalization. It's the opposite of what happens when we create stereotypes and de-personalize people so we can treat them in inhuman ways. When we characterize out-group people as 'all the same', when we deny them their humanity, we legitimize cruelty and killing. It's what we do in gangs and in wars. The opposite is when we see them as human, which is why meeting people in person is so important for peacemaking.


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