Google+ Authentic Parenting: The Negative Effect of a Black and White Worldview

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Negative Effect of a Black and White Worldview

I recently read a magnificent book about the history of DR Congo, written from the perspective of the people, instead of a mere summary of weapon facts and government succession, as many historic works turn out to be. The book made me think about how so very often - or need I say always - history is written from a black and white standpoint: there are the oppressors and the oppressed, the good ones and the evil ones.
This dichotomous thinking is so ingrained in our culture that it shapes the entire way Western people think. When we have one point of view, all those who have a different view must be opposing us. Generally people tend to think of themselves as good, thus ‘the other’ becomes evil.
Yet in history, as in all other aspects of life, there is very little black and white and a whole lot of different shades of gray. In war, there is never one party who leaves the battlefield untainted, in governing, there aren’t purely good rulers or purely evil, spawn of the devil type leaders. Thus is human nature, to be a bit of all of it.

But not only is this binary way of thinking false, it is also extremely dangerous. It makes us think about entire people in a black and white kind of way. The way we perceive the history of Rwanda, for example, will forever make people think of Tutsi’s as those poor oppressed people who barely escaped genocide, while their trespasses against the Hutu’s will never be known to history. It leaves an open door to large power forces to supply and support tyrannic regimes.
Reading any history of DR Congo (or at least one that states the foreign involvement in the country’s downward spiral, in which it is still strongly engaged) will make any Westerner’s belief in their own government and Western power forces tremble. I can only recommend it.



  1. I really enjoyed your comments about a black & white worldview. It made me interested in the book you were reviewing. What is the name of the book?

  2. The book is called "Congo", by David van Reybrouck, but it's written in Dutch. I don't think there have been any translations yet, as it's a fairly recent book


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