Discrimination, which should be viewed in a positive light sometimes, has been morphed to always mean something vindictive. For some reason, if one is discriminating or being discriminated against, it is automatically assumed that this is done for reasons uncontrollable to the victim, such as race, gender, or age. While this is a form of discrimination, and it’s most vile form, there are many other ways we discriminate every day, and it’s only to benefit us and those around us.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines discrimination as the act of making or perceiving a difference; in psychology, the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently; the quality or power of finely distinguishing; the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually; and lastly, prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment.
Only the last two definitions touch on the idea that discrimination is morally repulsive and should breed a negative connotation. However, the first three definitions speak on the merits of discrimination, which was an evolutionary tool.
Humans have always discriminated. From the beginning, humans would discriminate because it would keep them alive. For example, before we had much technology, humans would heavily discriminate against landlocked land in favor of land surrounding water. The reasons they did this should be obvious, yet it should be as equally as obvious that this is indeed a form of discrimination.
Likewise, you have discriminated against people your entire lives. Think back to your first few years of school. Surely, you didn’t befriend every single new person you met. By the law of diminishing marginal utility, to befriend everyone would be similar to befriending nobody. To solve this problem, you discriminated against most of your classmates in favor of a few of them you would call your friends.
Every time you pick your outfit or which pair of shoes you will wear for that given day is an act of discrimination. Do you need to wear business, casual, or lazy attire today? That’s discrimination. Which brand of milk, water, or any other product with close substitutes you ultimately choose is facilitated by discrimination. Whether the final decision was discriminatory because of price, marketing, or brand loyalty is irrelevant, it makes decisions easier.
Admittedly, these are all rather mundane or obvious examples of discrimination being a good thing, but discrimination can save lives today too. Imagine you own and manage a gun store. Let’s pretend there’s minimal state interference in selling firearms for simplicity’s sake. You’ve been in the business for around ten years, so you have learned to pick up on the subtleties of other people’s behaviors.
You notice when someone is breathing slightly harder than normal. You notice if they are sweating more than what would be subjectively considered average, by your own standards. You can tell if this person is, or recently was, consumed with anger and rage. Over the years and through experience, you can tell if they plan to use the weapon in a malicious manner.
If you have gained the skills to understand people’s behaviors, then you can use your intuition to discriminate against those showing warning signs of violence. Of course, you won’t always be right, but if you are skilled at discrimination, you will not sell any weapon to anyone who is showing telltale signs of using it in a vengeful way. In this instance, discrimination can save lives.