Storms, come and go, but some clouds hover over all humankind and rain lightning down on all. Prejudice is such a cloud.
Prejudice is the twisted belief that one person represents all people of that belief, color, status, or nationality. It usually starts in a personal hurt or slight; then gets encrusted with anger and emerges as hate for a group.
When we label one person as a member of a group we are being prejudiced. Whenever you place one person in a group, you are making a generalization and that is prejudice. As defined by the social psychologists, “Prejudice is an unjustified or incorrect attitude (usually negative) towards an individual based solely on the individual’s membership of a social group.”
WHAT CAUSES PREJUDICE
Nature’s way is to guard all against future hurts by branding images of what hurts into our brain. Hate dogs? It is a good bet you were either bitten or terribly scared by a dog. A phobia grows when fear of hurt is strong. Prejudice often starts when some from another group inflicts a personal hurt.
But it is not just personal experiences that lead to prejudice. Some grow not from an actual hurt, but a fear of hurt, but the voices that surround us and tell us what to fear. Prejudices start in the family but are quickly reinforced by the surrounding community.
Prejudices are deeply embedded in culture and in those who carry culture to the young. Which is why some religious groups work to keep children apart from other religious groups. The media is rife with images that promote one or another prejudice.
Fear of hurt also creeps in when we are when faced with the contradictory or unknown. We all want an easily understood and predictable world. Jerome Kagan, Harvard researcher, says uncertainty distresses us particularly uncertainty about our strongly held beliefs. He also notes that one way to get rid of the distress is to blame the person making us uncertain. We get angry instead of frightened. For many anger feels better than fear.
Moreover, we often handle fear of the unknown by clinging to the known. That explains why many of us gather in our own tribes and clans and avoid getting to know those in other tribes.
At our primitive brain level we are all prejudiced. What varies, or which prejudice operates most strongly, is what we learn and that often depends on what our parents or others in our surroundings teach.
The fact that the content of our prejudices is learned is cause for hope. Learned behaviors can be unlearned. We owe it to our children and all children to take active steps to unlearn our conscious and unconscious prejudices. Here are some tips for reducing the prejudices that try to control or boss you.
EMOTIONAL FITNESS TRAINING TIPS
Tip one: Know the beliefs dearest to your heart. These are the ones that if contradicted often lead to anger or righteous indignation on your part. Righteous indignation is one of my biggest feeling clues that I need to think more carefully. Accepting that my strong beliefs are often my most prejudicial beliefs keeps me somewhat more open to trying to understand another person’s point of view.
Tip two: Open your eyes a bit to the less savory elements of your heart-cherished beliefs. Rather than responding with an either/or approach, try thinking yes/and … Yes, religion is useful for teaching some values but religion can also be a tool for feeling morally superior to others. Yes, the United States can behave just as badly as many tyrannies, and the United States also is more religiously tolerant and more devoted to freedom of expression than those same tyrannies.
Tip three: Speak out against obvious prejudices. You will not always be heard but some will think more about what matters. If you are religious work to eradicate theology that divides people into the saved and damned. If you are not religious work to promote justice for all and to stop the sin of murder.
Tip four: Increase you knowledge of other people and other cultures.
- Attend services at a variety of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples to learn about different faiths.
- Shop at ethnic grocery stores and specialty markets. Get to know the owners. Ask about their family histories.
- Attend a play, listen to music, or go to a dance performance by artists whose race or ethnicity is different from your own.
- Learn sign language.
- Learn another language, particularly one spoken in your community.
- Make it a point to break bread often with a member of another ethnic group.
Tip five: Remember what matters: kindness, treating others as we wish to be treated, making our part of the world better, so all the world becomes better for all.
Thank You for All You Do
Thank me by remembering to share is to care; if you liked this post, share it. Liking, or commenting is practicing kindness and kindness keeps me going
This post was inspired by the Word Press Daily Post Prompt “Clouds”
I use the Daily Prompts not just to spark my blog ideas, but to improve my critical thinking skills.
Not sure how to use a Daily Post Prompt as a writer? Here are the steps to get started. Then improve your thinking skills by seeing where the prompt has taken others and how other thoughts fuel your thoughts. Whether you write or not your thinking skills are improved by reading other people’s thoughts.
LINKS OF INTEREST
These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.
Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises (www.emotionalfitnesstraining.com
The five components of Emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)Emotional Fitness Tips for Parents (parentsarepeopletoo.com)
An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents(amazon.com)