Without Prejudice…..

I decided to start off with a legal phrase just to get myself in the right mood. When it comes to attacking problems of course various forms of the legal profession jump to the fore. I have been pondering prejudice as well as hate, discrimination and other lowly virtues. I have been trying to do so from an intellectual point of view which of course taxes me greatly.

We as homo sapiens try to make sense of our world. As thinkers we don’t just worry about food and shelter but the incredible diversity in race, ethnicity, social groups, individual preferences and their interplay. It is normal and actually quite healthy to put people, places and things into categories.

These can be positive or negative. We tend to stereotype to keep things simple. That leads to prejudgements which can be real right or real wrong. We have “in” groups which we belong to and “out” groups who are our antitheses. Depending on your state of mind there is fluidity in the groups or an iron rod in the back once the decision has been made.

Sexism is the viewing of a gender and ascribing qualities to each side. Men are from Mars. Women from Venus. Great. We all act differently but does the role become antagonistic? Certainly when one senses fear, anxiety, jealousy or ignorance. This usually morphs into anger and a marvelous little emotion we call hate. That hate becomes so engrained that it leads to blinding rage and any absence of rational thought. Verbal or physical violence is called up at a moment’s notice.

Just look around you. The battle between good old boys and feminists is on display every day. Women think they should run things and that the world would be a better place. Men are petrified that they might be right and so give every inch grudgingly. Patience wears thin on both sides. Arguments turn petty and childish but each feels a growing sense of urgency. This can’t turn out well.

Is racism so far off? Whites think blacks are criminals at best and animals at worst. Blacks don’t understand why they scare the shit out of people. You are the greatest on the football field or basketball court but don’t move in next to me or date my daughter. Hispanics are lazy, no good illiterates. And gringos just want me to come and pick vegetables but the friendship stops there. These sons of bitches are trying to take over our country.
Go back where you came from. Oh yeah? Where did you or your forefathers come from?

Let’s finish off with a good helping of Jews, Atheists and Muslims. Can’t you just feel the juices flowing? In a crazy way it is just the best exhibit for us to say we are the better. My belief system, lot in life and athletic team are so much superior to yours. Face up to reality and recognize your place in life as long as it is second or less to mine.

Since at least the Middle Ages there has been this pecking order that is defined by land and servitude. Instead of one Holy Roman Emperors we have consistently created more and more fiefdoms. I am lord and master or mistress over my slice of the pie. I have power. I have wealth. I have knowledge. I am better than you. You are a nice person but subservient. I am not opting for socialism but as the gaps get wider and views more entrenched the chance of ever getting together become more remote.

Competition and intense rivalry have become part of our mores. Go back to putting things in buckets. The more complex the more general I have to be. I don’t have time or the desire to get to know individuals. I will just spend time with my own kind. I know them. Ant that of course begs the first step to solve this problem. I have to sit down and understand how other groups do things. I have to lay down my own beliefs for a moment and listen to yours. I have to for even the briefest of moments think that you might have some salient points.

Now as I get to know you I just may not fear you or be envious of you. God forbid I might actually get to like you. Despite what people might think we are all the same. Take us apart on the medical examiners table when we are done and everyone’s plumbing and gray matter is the same. The Human Genome Project has determined that nowhere in our gene pool is there one for race. And yet it is so built into our society.

In my wanderings I have discovered a thing called Contact Hypothesis. It says that we can cure or at least alleviate prejudice by approaching enemies on an equal basis and have the same goals. There was a show awhile back that took people and put them in very uncomfortable situations. One chapter had a homophobe right smack in the middle of some gays. He had to live with them for thirty days to win the prize.

I am sure you can figure this one out. He went in with a closed mind and came out with a whole new set of friends but more importantly a new perspective. He gained knowledge, got over his anxieties and low and behold had a different point of view. Brilliant my dear Watson. Brilliant.

I can’t even begin to understand what it means to grow up black. My wife or daughters could try to explain to me about glass ceilings or a lesser status at the club. I am not sure I get it. What if I was a nice simple fun loving family man Muslim? Can I really learn to love Tom Brady?
There are two concepts at work. Compassion and empathy. There is a simple reaching out and saying I would like to walk a mile in your shoes. Let me listen to you and maybe you could do the same in return. If you saw the picture of the motorcycle cop and black kid in Seattle I hope you get the idea. The young man was beyond upset. The cop reached out and said,”Can I have a hug?”
Some wag called it a photo op. I call it a start. How about you?

As always

Ted The Great

Factoids:
Eugenics is the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population. Hitler took this to the extreme and decided civilization belonged in a test tube. Some believe that interracial marriages bring down the quality of the species. Homo Sapiens is the species. There are no subspecies.

After pornography the most queries on the net relate to ancestry research. Just think if you go back in time we are all descendants of one another. It is also understood that as we intermarry in the next 1000 years the differences between us may be indistinguishable.

Race is actually a creation of modern day society. It did not exist in Roman times or the Dark Ages and quite probably not until the 17th century. Like race there is no known gene for skin color. It is widely accepted that color is due to climate not race. If England was equatorial then the Brits might be black instead of milky white. Go figure.

In colonial days the British were considered to be superior and Africans, Irish, Chines and Italians were inferior. The later were referred to as “Guineaus” which was actually an epithet reserved for blacks. Anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 of the original colonists came to the Americas as indentured servants.

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