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A Word about Prejudice

A Word about Prejudice

It’s one of those words that defines itself: Prejudice.  It is “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought or reason.”  It is pre-judging someone with very little or no basis in fact.


Some of the demographics that describe me:  69 years old, male, husband, father, grandfather, Christian, Caucasian, American born and raised.  There are a lot of people with whom I share most if not all of these characteristics.

But how foolish to think that all men in “my category” think alike, believe the same things, share the same values, support the same sports teams or political causes!

Yet, we hear these stereotypes used all the time when we turn on the television and radio (which is one reason I turn on the television and radio less and less!).

All men . . .
All women . . .
All baby boomers . . .
All millennials . . .
All Asians . . .
All African Americans  . . .

You get the point, of course you do.  You hear it and see it just as I do.  To fall into the prejudice trap indicates dishonesty and laziness. 

By the way, no one is immune to this temptation.  No one!

When we stereotype or pre-judge another person based upon just one or two characteristics, we are displaying our own ignorance.  We are showing the world that “we don’t know how much we don’t know!”

To really understand another person (as an individual) requires time, effort, open mindedness and the willingness to take risks, because asking real questions may result in some answers that are entirely unexpected!

Consider this excerpt from Amor Towles’ best seller, “A Gentleman in Moscow:”

After all, what can a first impression tell us about someone we’ve just met for a minute in the lobby of a hotel? For that matter, what can a first impression tell us about anyone? Why, no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brushstroke about Botticelli. By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration–and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.

Think about it.  When we see someone, we certainly notice the outward, physical characteristics: how they appear, what they wear or the color of their skin.  We may hear them utter two or three sentences, and we may think we have them “pegged.”  We don’t!

It is a huge mistake to pre-judge or stereotype anyone, for any reason, at any time.  When we allow that to happen, we do a great disservice to the other person and to ourselves as well.

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