It is amazing how much we dwell on surface
matters. We still do think differently about people
from different nations, people with different skin colors,
people who speak different languages. I do.
It's something that was taught to me as I was growing up,
but it's not something that I'm proud of. It is
something that I do my best to keep in check, that I try
very hard to correct as soon as any thought of difference
enters my mind.
Probably the most important reason for which we still have
biases against others is simply because we don't know
them. They may be great, great people, but if all of
our judgment is based only upon what we see, then we're
going to judge incorrectly. It's only when we get to
know a person that we actually can get a sense of who they
are and what they're capable of. But not knowing
leads to another problem: fear. We fear the
unknown, and we fear the loss of our own systems of
belief, our own ways of looking at the world. When
all is said and done, people who are different represent a
threat, and when we're threatened we tend to get
defensive; when we're defensive, we don't think nearly as
We spend our lives wanting other people to know us for our
uniqueness--our personality, our character, our abilities
and talents. Yet we don't try to do the same thing
for others, especially if those others are
"different" than we are. It really is
quite a shame, too, for those different people surely have
much to teach us that would be of great value to us.
One day when our descendents are discussing just how
strange it was that we focused so much on skin color and
eye shape, make sure that your descendents will be able to
say about you, "Yes, but not my grandmother (or
grandfather). She never judged on such things--she
was fair and open-minded.
From where do most of our prejudices come? Why do we
allow them to stick around, even after we've grown to
learn the truth about them?
How might we go about teaching our young people to
be not just tolerant, but loving and accepting of other
What kinds of things do we think were incredible for our
ancestors to believe? Why did they believe such things?