When I read this joke I thought of my mother’s mother. She would have thought nothing of banning blacks and Jews from her table. Moreover, lots of others would have been banned. She was a nastier woman than most and by the time I was eight or nine, I had disowned her in my mind. She was, however, a product of her times – maybe a bit nastier than many, but bigotry was part of the culture surrounding her.
I didn’t live in the South and my great-grandfather was a Captain in the Union Army, still my hometown was not immune to bigotry. In the 40’s and 50’s, I may have known my grandmother’s bigotry was wrong, but was blind to the fact that the movie theater in our town relegated blacks to the balcony. More damaging bigotry? No blacks ever made it into the college bound classes at Media High School. As for Jews I probably knew some but was blind to their existence except for the fact the one store was run by Jews; I have no idea how I knew that.
The Civil Rights movement raised my consciousness, attending a Southern College, and then becoming a social worker raised it higher as did living in New York City. Marrying a Jew and then converting to Judaism pushed me further into the contemplation of bigotry and efforts to fight it.
Bigotry is bred into the human race and will always be with us. How is bigotry part of our breeding?
The brain is programmed first and foremost to keep us safe. One way to stay safe is to cling to the known, avoid walking down unknown streets particularly in the dark; avoid people you know little or nothing about; do not accept ideas that are strange.
Then there is the need to feel good about one’s self. Let me count some ways we do that: by feeling moral; by feeling stronger than, or by having the most toys.
Finally, there comes the need to belong and hopefully to belong to the in group.
I am writing this post because of today’s political scene; but also because a new form of bigotry is taking over as divisiveness is grows and protests protests more and more violent.
What to do? Here are some tips.
Emotional Fitness Training Tips
Tip one: Recognize your prejudices. Yes, we all have them. Passionate about something? Feeling righteous? Morally outraged? Time to pull back and do some heavy thinking.
I have to do that often when I meet a red-head. Why? I was punched in the stomach by an older girl with flaming red hair, when I was six. Never saw her thereafter, but the memory of the pain and surprise still gets attached to some red-head.
Tip two: Remember what matters. Across all ages and all cultures two things have been seen to matter: caring and justice. The world is in bad shape only because we divide the world into those who deserve caring and justice and those who do not.
Tip three: Understand what draws you to one or another belief. Because we fear hurt we identify with those who seem to share our hurts. Hurt because your religion failed you? You gravitate toward another religion or atheism. Hurt because of your skin color, you gravitate toward others hurt for the same reason.
Part of fearing hurt is avoidance. Hurt because love failed? You give your heart less willingly. Laughed at for speaking up? You speak up less.
Also strong in who we become and how we act is the need to belong. Mob mentality is real and much driven in today’s world by the media. The desire to belong fills churches, synagogues, mosques and the streets. Pick carefully and think more critically about the people you build alliances with.
Tip four: Do not be silenced. Passionate believers want to silence those who disagree. Why? Because disagreement often shakes faith in their beliefs. Speak up and speak out, and follow the edict “Say what you mean, but do not say it mean.”
Tip five: Hatetalk, destruction of property, and violence are the tools of evil. Combat them anyway non-violent way you can.
Tip six: Strengthen your self-soothing skills. My easy Emotional Fitness Exercises will help you do that. For a quick introduction go here Emotional Fitness Exercises. Particularly important in creating calm is to make a conscious effort to forgive those who have hurt you and then to forgive yourself. Here is a post about forgiveness and letting go.
Share all you find of value on the internet. All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the writer, the people you share with, and you as being kind blesses you.
Post Inspiration: How this post relates to this WordPress Daily Prompt: Panicked. The outcome of this years Presidential election has sparked panic in many. That panic has spared this post. Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.
Links of Interest
These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.
- Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
- The five components of emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)
- About Emotional Fitness Training (emotionalfitnesstraining.com)
Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much. Take their advice and mine carefully. Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart. Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others. As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.
Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors
If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here; I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what like me. Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability, Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense. If you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.