Geometry of Society

The best part of math classes for me, and for most of my friends as well, was Geometry. It was really fun to play with shapes; figuring out their sizes or areas. We would bring up Geometry whenever the conversation was about the math class, and how it was the best thing about it.

Once the basics were introduced and done, we eventually moved onto three dimensional shapes. Cubes, pyramids, cylinders and others were not as fun as the previously examined ones. I unintentionally began to lose interest, just as my friends, because the process became too complex to consider it fun anymore. These new shapes required more thinking and solving. The third dimension was a buzz-killer, so to speak. Thus, most of us began to ignore Geometry as a result, and the math class was considered completely devoid of fun at that point. It was also at that point I realized something subtle about people: complexities scare them away.

It is something that can be observed in every aspect of daily life. People refuse to take the time to deduce or solve complex problems. Everything needs to be simplified beforehand and spoon-fed because that is the general expectation now. Even reading a simple instructions manual is sometimes considered a chore. I believe this over-simplification leads to unintentional, or intentional, generalizations. I often ponder about this correlation between reluctance of dealing with complexity and negligence in society. Different identities or personalities with complex aspects tend to confuse people. So, they choose to stay away from them or ignore them. Social issues that relates to race, gender, religion, or identity as a whole, are considered too complex by many. Their answers usually tend to be over-simplified solutions, and they do not compare.

In her TED talk, Kim Crenshaw mentioned a woman whose case was dismissed due to refusal of combining causes of discrimination by the court. Her case attempted to display the subtle discrimination by her company toward African-American women in particular. Overlapping race and gender created multiple levels inside of the case to consider. Kim Crenshaw explains that dissimilar experience presented made the case too complex for the judge, or the law, to determine a sound resolution. So, their instinct was to dismiss it and stay away from it. Discrimination is already a complex issue; double-discrimination makes a complex issue even more complicated to process. It is simply easier to toss the issue out than trying to solve it. This dismissive attitude in society unfortunately allows a lot of people to fall through the cracks in social infrastructure.

I have previously talked about a third dimension that completes the person in a different blog post. Most people tend to observe others on the surface level because it is easier to comprehend than considering that third dimension, which consists identity. It is not a secret that people are complex creatures. Yet, most of us unintentionally, or intentionally, distance ourselves from those whose third dimension requires a more challenging formula to solve and understand. Another TED talk that we examined at the time of that particular blog post I have mentioned was Chimamanda Adichie’s “A single story”. Her point was about formation of stereotypes based on ‘a single story’ and how it could be avoided. I believe the major cause of formation of these stereotypes is not just presenting a singular perspective in literature but also the choice that people make to read or follow a singular perspective because, as indicated multiple times by now, it is easier to decipher.
Unfortunately, this reluctance of comprehension is not exclusive to just “some people”. I am guilty of this practice just as much as the next person. I believe there are two strong reasons as to why this issue exists. The society as a whole deems any person incapable of complex cognition, and proving such a process, as “stupid”. This fear makes people very reluctant to accept any sort of responsibility, so they run away from it. Why bother attempting to solve a difficult issue and risk failing to be seen as incompetent when you can avoid the issue and hide the possibility that your cognition is lesser than some others? That is the thought that inherits the mind of many as a great obstacle. Another reason is impatience: “I don’t have time to deal with that kind of issue… I have other things to attend to.” An excuse that we all make is that our time is very limited. Especially, when the issue holds no consequences for us. There is great saying that goes “ignorance is only bliss for the ignorant, not the victims.”

In the end, perhaps the aim of most of us should be to find a motivation to stop and think about social issues, and work through their complexities, rather than run away from them. Complex Geometry could still be fun. The third dimension of those shapes add much more interest and intrigue than most would realize. Just a little bit of extra effort, a bit of encouragement, to pull yourself away from reluctance and ignorance is all that is needed. The complexity is only a buzz-killer if you choose to deem it so.

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1 Comment

  1. Great blog post. Indeed I agree, the human condition is complex and difficult to understand. As a result, people often run away from issues that are challenging. A case that targets the conflict of both gender and race is as a such a difficult issue to solve in a simple way.

    Liked by 1 person

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