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home : opinion : opinion/editorial August 22, 2017

8/9/2017 4:35:00 PM
Room for a View: Prejudice
By Charles Wilkinson

Prejudice is a distortion of the human spirit, a prison of the human mind as well. It is an attitude rooted in fear, ignorance and false pride. Whatever its origins, it is ultimately a personal malady. Everyone has implicit biases but prejudice can take some of them a few steps farther, even into the darkness of racism.

There is no magic cure or quick-fix for such mindsets.

Prejudice needs to be seen for what it is – a judgment based in self-righteousness. That is why no one can cure prejudice and racist attitudes except those who have them.

Prejudice is a symptom of a narrow mind, a mind threatened by differences and insecure in its own values. Those incapable of seeing differences as learning opportunities and as valid facets of the gift of life shortchange themselves as well as those they judge. They need to know that acceptance of “different” is the beginning of understanding; prejudice, a serious roadblock.

Racism is prejudice in the extreme. Treating it does not mean becoming color-blind to the spectrum of differences among us should be celebrated as much as any rainbow. But one needs an open mind to do so.

Fear, at the core of any prejudice, can lock in any mind for a lifetime. Openness on the other hand finds a wider world in everyone along the way. Caring combined with curiosity is generally welcoming. When one senses acceptance, trust and sharing often follow, leaving little room for any prejudice.

 It is important to realize that while biases are personal, racial prejudice is rarely one-sided; what one gives in any relationship is usually what one gets in return, and vice versa. Racial prejudice has a chilling effect, always. It diminishes everyone and, like resentment, damages self even more.

Diversity, like change, is a fact of life. It takes all of us, one by one and together, to create a world that is open to everything our differences can teach us and to how they can enrich us. After all, crafting a better world requires a free and fearless better self.

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