“The way those people think is wrong.”
–Everyone on the internet
To grapple with Big Problems, one must unveil their underlying causes. However, if your scrutiny suggests that the culprit is none other than “Other People,” your search isn’t over. The problem cannot be Other People.
Three examples of The problem is Other People:
Some might argue, “Clearly, the issue isn’t the individuals themselves—it’s their actions and beliefs. We need to change those.”
But what if you can’t? It happens, you know.
And when you frame the problem as Other People (who can’t or won’t change how they act and think), your options are grim.
“Fine, I’ll play ball somewhere else.” In this clever dodge, you tackle the problem of Other People by conjuring up a world that excludes them. New forums; different cities; separate rules for all. It may work for a few things, but what about the problems that affect us all? Without a shared reality, cooperation falters, and those Big Problems just stick around.
“Adapt, or face the consequences.” This approach is as dreadful as it is fruitless. Ideologies don’t simply vanish, even with coercion, humiliation, or aggression. This can be both advantageous (consider the resilience of marginalized communities) and a bummer (cue Nazis and bronies). Physical force, intimidation, erasure, rebuke, incarceration, and deplatforming don’t provoke change in Other People, they just leave us with fewer hands on deck when we need it.
Still, there’s an alternative path.
Roll up your sleeves and unearth the root cause of your Big Problems. I promise, it’s not an individual, a group, a race, or a nation. You’ll need help from Other People, so give them a call. Bring your adversary closer to integrate their perspective. All endeavor requires compromise so accept that. Complication accelerates knowledge loss so make things simpler for everyone.
When digging into a problem leads you to blame Other People, keep digging. Blame is always a dead end.