Earlier this summer I took a tri-state trip in the Ohio-Michigan area visiting family and friends. After that trip I really cannot recall if it was the books I was reading at the time or just the awareness of change in some of my old friends I met, but I took a vow to stop judging people and being prejudice no matter what! I can give myself a B+ since then in trying to enact this change in my life but there is still a lot to do. I think philosophers or all those who study human behavior must agree with me when I say it is a part of human characteristic to be prejudice or pass judgment on others. It is just inevitable. I mean we all do it, in our homes, groups, churches and race. If it is this general why talk about it then? In this blog post I simply want to share my experience and reiterate the fact that it is one of the worst ills in our society.
The fundamental reason why anybody will pass judgment on another will be because in their standards they think or believe that person is not doing right or they are just plain better than them. I say this because in my case this is true! But why? This summer I came to realize how ignorant or devious such feelings or thoughts are. You even begin to wonder why you have been behaving like that all along. I think even with people that do their best not to judge others it is grueling not to do so. Sometimes you might do it without knowing, sometimes it just comes from a place of hatred and most times it comes from us trying to advise others. (Critics are not prejudice although there is a fine line.) In some higher studies prejudice is mostly geared towards groups/people in categories such as ethnicity, religion, social class, age, sexuality etc. but I'm not going to discuss that in this blog post.
I consider myself pretty lucky, or in a Christian sense blessed! When I look back on how my life could have been compared to my childhood, I appreciate all that my parents and family did for me and even dream further! Even though there have been sad times or disappointments I can honestly say there have never been a point in my life where I thought I could not make my dreams a reality or even doubt my future success. Like I cannot even begin to see where I can fail. This summer I heard stories from some very close friends, actually gossips of what they thought my life was. It was pretty strange to hear their version of my life-their prejudice-through the eyes of these guys. Yes we are told to ignore the negativity that life brings, I do not think so, even though you should not engage in the argument but when you hear somebody you like or consider close talk about you that way it is healthy to take a second and understand why they did, looking from their perspective. Obviously I thought why bother about what they think but then I started realizing that I do the same to others. So hearing first hand criticisms of what some of my friends think of me prompt me to abandon this life of prejudice! I began to understand how much of a cycle it all is.
Further let us take a simple test Consider two friends complaining about each other; listen to the complaints or the version of the first friend reasons, listen with an open mind then consider the complaints of the other friend. You might conclude several things but I bet you will find that in each other position they believe they are right and better. Just as one of them may have several valid reasons why the other person will fail or is doing something wrong, the other friend share almost the same thoughts. That’s how malignant prejudice is! If you settle your differences this way or move forward with such ideologies you will soon find yourself in a life of hate, fear, inferiority complex and eventually crimes!
I am black and I live in Texas I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have pass judgment on people or witness other pass judgment on me because of my race, ethnicity, color etc. But that is all gone now! One of my friends asked me the other day about racism. I told her for a long time and even now I believe racism is man-made and instigate lots of hatred and fear among people but my approach to racism lately has change very much. You see in Africa we have over 100 tribes in one small region and what is considered racism in the USA is practiced everyday among these peoples and I will assume in most parts of the world. So when I tried to understand this I concluded that when you met somebody you do not know or have heard derogatory stories about them, your default position is fear. In a state-of-fear you will exhibit negative racial behavior and many more prejudicial characteristics, if you get to know this person and even not becoming their friend but understanding who they are, all that racial and color barriers will be wiped out!
You put yourself in a superior position every time you pass quick judgment on another person, and because you do not have all the facts about that person you will always be wrong! I tell you there is so much beauty and joy among us when we try to practice a prejudice-free life! I think to overcome prejudice the number one thing to do is to seek to understand, try to get the facts. When the facts seem to confirm your prejudice, you should then leave some space for reasonable doubt. This may sound pretty naive especially for people who might have suffered from deceit and heartbreak, but it works! I will personally confess that in my first semester in Texas A&M University, I really did not make a lot of friends or open up to a lot of people but that has all change now. I am proud to say it will take a lot for me to pass quick judgment on a person even when my judgment seem too obvious to be right, and this is not because I found God it’s just because I have realized how treacherous it is and how much it has alienated lots of close friends and opportunities!
There is no guarantee that we can all get along in this current society, but if we cannot prevent prejudice then at least ignore the person or situation and move along. You cannot force yourself to love a person but don’t force yourself to hate them because of your preconceived ideology! Seek to understand first! There are so many treasures you will find in doing that. Thanks for reading my blog and I hope to read your comments…………….