Damn That Prejudice

prejudice

They say prejudice is the child of ignorance. Question is: Is there anyone who is truly prejudice-free?

Prejudice is defined as a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.  This is the dictionary definition.

My definition: Prejudice can be described as judgment without trial. It is reaching a conclusion wholly based on your personal opinion or experience without regard for another’s point of view, background or experience. It is an uneducated or misguided expression of intolerance. It could also be described as an uninformed disregard of the ethos behind another’s choices or way of life.

Think what a boring world this would have been if we were all the same; if we all thought the same way, liked the same things, looked and sounded the same way. Someone once gave me an analogy on objectivity that has stuck with me overtime. It goes like this: 2 people are standing in a room facing each other, behind one person is a wall with a painting and a flower pot on a counter. Behind the other, is a glass door through which he could see an open plan office with people going around their daily business. When asked what they could see as they stood facing each other, each gave a description of the view ahead of them, one the painting and the flower pot, and the other, of the open plan office. The morale of the analogy, is that they were both standing in the same space in the same room but they each had a different point of view based on the direction they faced. Neither of them was wrong about what they saw – each person was correct; their answers were based on their perspective.

Following that same analogy it would not be right for one of them to say to the other: “You are wrong, the only thing anyone can see from this room is a painting and a flower pot”, just because from where they stood that was all they could observe optically, does not make the other’s viewpoint (also from where that person stood), incorrect or less credible.

I think one of the most profound things I have learned in my life is knowing and accepting the fact that I do not know ‘it all’. I am not always right, and the fact that I do not understand or agree with something doesn’t make it wrong, non-existent or irrelevant. Often times we place too much emphasis on our mental acceptance of a thing as though if we disagree with it, it lacks validation. Funny how the actual reality is that most things do not require our concurrence or stamp of approval to function or exist.

To answer my question which I posed at the beginning: philosophically speaking, I think it’s almost impossible for anyone to be completely free of some level of prejudice in one form or another. Simply because our backgrounds influence our behaviors; and our behaviors are a reflection of what we perceive as right and wrong, good and bad, what is appropriate and what is not. The point I am trying to make here is this: the higher road is overcoming our preconceptions and opening our minds, not necessarily to accept another person’s viewpoint, but to : i) accept that, that other person not only has a different perspective; ii) to respect that person’s right to their perspective, even if it conflicts with everything we believe in or stand for.

Prejudice is displayed in different forms, shapes and shades, and whilst one might be free from a type of prejudice, he or she might be guilty of another.

We all need to be more respectful and accepting of others.

And if you’re out there and you feel the pressure that prejudicial judgment causes – I’ll share with you what I have learned to do myself:  as much as I can, I try to stay true to myself and my God. As long as I am happy with my choices, as long as I am  not doing anything that goes against my personal spiritual beliefs, as long as I am not contravening any laws by my actions, and as long as what I am doing does not hurt anybody – that’s my inner compass. I don’t live my life to please people and I find it very liberating indeed. Too many people are compromising personal happiness and fulfilment to please other people.

I recently came across a quote which I think echoes the message I am trying to pass along quite well. It went like this: ‘Don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you’.

Bina Idonije        

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