Discrimination and prejudice

With all the hate-filled rhetoric filling the airwaves this week, I found myself thinking about prejudice and hate and bias and discrimination. I grew up with extremely prejudiced parents; and I have my own biases because of them. But I have spent a large part of my adult life fighting against my own prejudices.  I don’t subscribe to the mindset that people should be treated differently because their skin is a different color; their religion isn’t the same as mine; their culture does things I don’t agree with.  But it’s a daily struggle. I know people who will take the actions of a few to represent the whole religion/culture and tar everyone with that same brush. And I think that’s wrong. Imagine if all Christians were thought to be like Fred Phelps or Terry Jones.  (And there are some who think that!) Is this how we want Christians to be seen?

When I was growing up, I heard my parents belittling recent immigrants who lived across the street from us. According to my mother, they lived 20 people to an apartment and ate cat food. To my young, impressionable mind, that was disgusting. Later in life I discovered they had that many people living together because that’s what they were used to, and they didn’t know there was any other way to live. And because people didn’t want to rent to them because they were different. And because they were saving money to start businesses where they all worked together as a family. I might not agree with some of the tenets of their religion, but I admire the fact that they were willing to make sacrifices to get what they wanted.

I believe there is good in everyone. Sometimes we don’t see it, or don’t want to see it, because we are blinded by prejudice.

We hate some persons because we do not know them; and will not know them because we hate them. ~Charles Caleb Colton


We always have choices. We may not like what they are, but they are our choices regardless. Sometimes, it’s a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, but it’s still a choice. I hear people moaning about how they had no choice, and I want to shake them and tell them to wake up. Here’s an example:

Suppose I hate my job. I would love to quit but think I have no choice but to keep working. But that is wrong. I can choose to keep working at this job because it means I can eat and have a roof over my head; I can quit my job and perhaps lose my home; I can find another job that I like better (or hate less!) There are probably other options besides these three.

We make choices every day; what to eat, what to wear, whether or not to respond to an email or voice mail and how to respond. Some are conscious decisions; others we make without thinking about it. Doing nothing at all is also a choice. Sometimes we feel so paralyzed by the options available that we choose to do nothing.

Joyce Sequichie Hifler said:  “If we don’t choose what we want in our lives, then life will decide for us.” It is up to us whether we will just roll with whatever comes our way or fight for what we want out of life. We don’t have to agree with everything we see and hear; we must think and act for ourselves, for what we want out of life. There is always a choice.