Planning a Columbus Day radio broadcast this year with Native American friends from across the hemisphere brought back a childhood memory. We were talking about that unfortunate human capacity to regard groups of strangers as "others," as qualitatively different, strange, threatening and of lesser worth, and about the town that succeeded in getting rid of its “illegal aliens” only to discover that its workforce, consumers and everything that sustained its economy had been eliminated.
Underneath any specific conclusions we come to on any subject, is a more fundamental framework consisting of our premises. Because premises are usually implicit in contrast to explicit conclusions, and because they often are shared by much of our surrounding culture, we tend to take them for granted. We may argue or discuss some specific government action, for instance, without even being aware that our agreement or disagreement is itself shaped by our underlying sense of human nature or what kind of society is possible or what difference we are able to make in the world.