Tuesday, September 28, 2010

prejudice

tea and thinking time
We all have it.  Don't lie to yourself and say "not me".  It is something inherent in our species.  From the day we are old enough to look at another human and say or think "I'm different" or "they're different" it starts.  We compare skin.  We compare looks.  We look at age.  We look at sex.  We judge intelligence.  We look at weight.  We look at sexual preference.  We look at how much money someone else has.  We look at what church they attend.  We look at who doesn't attend church.  We look at where someone lives.  We look at who they live with.  We look at who their family is.  We look at who their children are.  We look, we look, we look.

But....we don't SEE.

And as we compare, we form judgements.  Some positive (she is beautiful) and some negative (he is crazy).  As we form judgements, we are actually judging them against ourselves.  What else do we have to use as a standard but ourselves?

The only thing about that is that by judging someone and using ourselves as a standard, we are telling ourselves that we are normal.  And that "normal" is the standard that should be used.

And the problem with that is one thing....there is no "normal".  What is normal for me and what is my standard can't be compared to someone living a different life or lifestyle, here or in another part of the world.  And the reason why?  Because if that person in another place living a different type of life uses the same type of thinking, then they have a different standard.  And I am found lacking.

So what to do?  Prejudice is always there.  To take the teeth out of the mouth of prejudice, the first step is being aware that you are.  Awareness makes you think, and when you start to think, you start to see there is something else out there.  The second step is to not let it keep you from taking a step forward.  Toward that other person.  Toward understanding.  Toward realizing that tolerance can lead to acceptance, and if not acceptance, then at least allowance.

I allow I am a prejudiced person.  I make judgements.  What I choose to do though is to ignore those thoughts and ideas and learn.  Learn more about what I think is true.  To find the real truth.  And to embrace the differences we all have as what makes us unique in the eyes of the creator.

I was blessed to be raised by parents who were liberal thinkers.  I can honestly say I don't ever remember any negative or prejudiced ideas being taught to me, and I thank my mum and dad.  (Well there was that time we were watching Ed Sullivan and Mitzi Gaynor was dancing and mum said she had way too much cleavage showing, but I don't think that really counts.)  I tried to raise my children with open minds and tolerance, so that when prejudice surfaces in their lives, they will keep in mind that being different isn't bad or good, it just is different.

I also think what really affected me as a child was the cruelty I saw in kids my own age, toward other kids who were "different".  Things they learned, most likely at home.  I hurt then for other kids who were targets, and it still hurts to think of it.  Because occasionally I was the target.  Because I was "different".

Take my words for whatever you choose to see in them, and know that I will not judge you for what you think of them.  All I hope for is that perhaps you will think. 

Perhaps the next time you see someone speaking with prejudice about something, you will remember my words.  And begin to see through new eyes.

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