It is the rare person who has not experienced shunning in some shape or form in their lifetime – it could be in the form of an individual rejecting a request, a boss not approving your idea, or a group shunning an individual for their opinion or characteristics. Unfortunately, in our society, it is often the only way to maintain social order and exercise individual power.
Shunning has existed since Ancient Greek and Roman times and is referenced in every major religion as a means of enforcing moral behavior. While it has traditionally been used to maintain a sense of decorum and discourage detrimental behavior in the community, more recent times have seen it used as a way of protecting the status quo.
For example, it is not uncommon for social justice movements to reject those that do not believe or follow their cause out of fear of collective vulnerability. Similarly, in the workplace, certain individuals may be rejected simply because they are "different" than the majority — for example, an engineer with a passion for fly-fishing or a math professor who loves lasertag.
It is essential to recognize that while shunning can be an effective tool in maintaining social order, it can also be used in an abusive way as a means of power and control. Such abuse can take many forms, from defining someone's identity or worth to punishing them for not meeting expectations. This is why it is important to recognize when shunning is used as a means of control and question why a person is being rejected.
Ultimately, shunning is a tool of last resort – a tool that should be used sparingly and only when the other alternatives are exhausted. It's important to remember that shunning someone is more than simply rejecting them from an existing group; it is also denying them a chance to be part of something. So, before facing the "dark justice" of shunning, it is important to consider the potential cost of isolation and the compassionate alternatives that might offer solace and understanding.