Thursday, July 29, 2010

How is that Learned

A conversation sprang up last week about prejudice. The question that was raised is how to we learn to be anti-someone or something. I had two thoughts spring to mind. One is an adage that was well written and then merged with a musical score, “You’ve got to be taught to be afraid, of people whose eyes are oddly made, and people whose skin is a different shade. You’ve got be carefully taught.” So, definitely prejudice can be nurtured and fed, as can equality and humility of self.

Another is Harper Lee’s writing and the character of Dolphus Raymond. Dolphus tells Dill, a little boy in the book, that he is getting sick due to the injustice around him. But, that he would outgrow it in time, and eventually would be fortunate if it just made him squirm.
So which is it, are we taught by people or are we taught by life and the calluses which develop due to the bumping around life gives us? Maybe it’s both and more. We definitely can learn prejudice on a wide variety of topics from the family we are surrounded by. And, life can most definitely create enough bumps and bruises that we shy away from pushing the status quo just to avoid getting one more life laceration.
If prejudice exists (and it does), and we can be affected by (which we are), how do we overcome this? We cannot relegate others to secaond class citizenship because they are different. We may want to, and we may point out the dissimilarities. But, the distinctions and differentiations belong to us, not to God.
“We’ve got to be taught, before it’s too late, before we are six or seven or eight. To hate all the people our relatives hate….” Take a stand, take a look. Be prejudiced against prejudice.