The difficulty, for us modern Americans anyhow, comes with the need to honor rightly both the “all” and the distinct persons and lives within the “all.” It is easy to issue a general approval of “all humans” or of all of this or that race or category of humans. But for most of us it is impossible to approve of all the individual members even of our own bunch. It is when we come face-to-face with one another individually and personally that our ethical principles, such as that sentence from the Declaration or “love they neighbor as thyself” are snatched into the wringer of actual experience. Actual experience subjects and exposes us to the actual world, in which we must make a living under the obligation to be honest, form opinions under the obligation to be just, and in general suffer the mysteries, obscurities, and complexities that make truth difficult and righteousness imperfect. Nobody can naturally or easily love everybody. Neither white liberals nor white supremacists can look with favor upon all white people. Neither white liberals nor black liberals will look with favor upon all black people whom they actually known and are obliged to deal with as individuals. Godly and un-godly conservatives can abide one another only in the half-lit masquerade of party politics. To be obliged to confront one apart from all involves risk; it may become a test or a trial. The difficulty and the dread of this is indicated by our disease of “communication” by cell phone, even between persons in the same place.
Whether because of electronic intervention or political anxiety or personal estrangement, many of us now appear to be sheltering or virtually disappearing into the anonymity of some subdivision of “all.”
–Wendell Berry, The Need To Be Whole, 17-18.