Reversibility is an important strategy for finding the right balance when assessing situations. It prevents tunnel vision, polarizing behavior, and an all too easily taken position from your comfort zone. It helps you to remain critical when generally accepted opinions or unilaterally imposed points of view lead to a kind of self-affirming mass psychosis from which it is difficult to escape.
Reversibility means that if you think or talk about something or someone, you should first project the same on yourself. If it does not lose meaning, then the level of truth is high. If you think it isn’t right, then it’s wrong the other way around too. This principle has indirectly to do with resonance: what you like or annoy about someone else is often a blind spot that also applies to you.
You can only react to something that you unconsciously recognize in yourself.
Reversibility forces you to compromise more often. Examples:
- If a company thinks it’s normal to hire only the best people, so does the competitor. You don’t have to whine when employees are lured away from both sides. From a reversibility point of view , there is nothing illegal about that. Perhaps it would be better to start some kind of exchange program to encourage each other to get better.
- If you only select the most beautiful apples in a supermarket, then others have that right too. Once only ugly fruit is left, you should not complain to the branch manager. Suggest a compromise where the refill is spread over the day.
- If you think that the government can impose a certain behavior on individuals, then that applies to you just as well (even if you don’t like it for once). In fact, individuals may oblige the government (the law does not only apply in one direction). To avoid unworkable or dictatorial situations, it is better to let go of the reins, to work more from “give and take”, mutual understanding and acceptance.
The principle of reversibility can also help to bring some calm around current themes that can get quite heated: Corona, #MeToo, discrimination and equalisation. These and other themes are at odds with diversity. On the one hand we would like diversity because it provides more possibilities and freedoms, on the other hand we are not allowed to name the building blocks of the result. Sometimes cross-border behavior is actually undesirable and inhumane, such as ethnic profiling or dissemination of sexually oriented images without consent. But sometimes it is only the boundary that shifts with the zeitgeist.
Discrimination is simply making distinctions so that you can make choices. It’s a very normal human phenomenon, especially since we think digitally and have more difficulty with inclusivity . Discrimination, however, has taken on a negative meaning due to unfair distinction between races or sexes. It has led to feelings of inequality and corresponding treatment in, for example, pay or distribution of leadership positions. And that has been translated, especially by politicians, into equal opportunities for everyone.
Equalization is the wiping out of everything that indicates distinction, especially when it comes to male or female (with all the implicit biases that come with it). It is a reaction to negatively perceived discrimination. In order to educate people, the language must be cleaned up, entire texts must be rewritten, biological characteristics may no longer be gender-related, and so on. Equalization makes the world a palette of shades of gray. And that, while people actually strive for recognition of colorful diversity!
Isn’t it much better to work on behavior and attitude during upbringing and schooling? By providing information, while the rest moves slowly with the times? Shouldn’t we also be mindful of the, sometimes historical, context from which certain views have arisen, and that they don’t just apply elsewhere?
If you apply the reversibility principle to discrimination, you get interesting perspectives. Like Jews who want to be a race per se , know exactly what sets them apart from other people (especially Arabs), but then don’t want to be discriminated against. Or the fight against American sectarian oppression of the non-white person, which leads to the Dutch Zwarte Piet being removed from the cultural image. That last discussion has pretty much gone on now, but I’ve never quite understood it. The more you set yourself against the other party, the more you emphasize the difference. Personally, I have never made the link between Zwarte Piet and black people as inferior and helpers. I actually had more fun with and about those funny dressed people than with that strict white saintly man. Sinterklaas was the bogeyman with his thick book, but Zwarte Piet had the bag with sweets and presents. Even later, as an adult, my view of humanity has not been negatively affected by the tension around December 5th. If a child on the street asks ” Mommy, is this gentleman a black Pete? “, this is precisely an opportunity to teach the child to perceive correctly, and to emphasize the positive aspects. It’s no different when a child on the bus asks: ” Mommy, is that lady pregnant? “, and you can explain that people have different physiques, but we are all the same anyway. Exactly the way you want to be treated yourself.
But if we want to keep the caricatures out of our minds, then we’d better delete expressions such as “playing the black peter to someone “, just like that fat white Anglo-Saxon Santa Claus. Or the idea that around Christmas you have to eat a lot, put up a lot of lights and give everyone presents, because that is only commercial behavior that suits wealthy people. Stick to a campfire, a nice fireworks party in the neighborhood, and a drink to toast with your fellow man to the new opportunities that will present themselves in the near future.