August 20

One day our descendants will think it
incredible that we paid so much attention
to things like the amount of melanin in our
skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender
instead of the unique identities of each
of us as complex human beings.

Franklin Thomas


Today's Meditation:

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 clearly.

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.

Questions to consider:

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 people's differences?

What kinds of things do we think were incredible for our ancestors to believe? Why did they believe such things?

For further thought:

Those who are possessed with a prejudice are possessed
with a devil, and one of the worst kinds of devils, for it
shuts out the truth, and often leads to ruinous error.

Tryon Edwards

More thoughts and ideas on prejudice.


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