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Prejudices

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Prejudice of any kind usually arises from insensitivity to another's experience. Sometimes we make the assumption that others think and feel as we do, or inversely, that they "couldn't possibly" understand where we are coming from or what we are going through. These assumptions preclude the possibility for real communication, for a reciprocal interchange of personal experiences.

When we are stuck in such a mindset, we have a tendency to "tar everything with the same brush", negating the individuality of the people that we interact with based upon some superficial characteristic, as if that somehow tells us everything about that person's history and the entirety of what is going on inside of them at any given moment.

This can often take the form of seemingly innocuous statements like "you can't have an opinion on [blank] because you are/aren't [blank]".

For example:

• "You can't have an opinion on politics because you're a native, black, mexican, asian, etc."

• "You can't have an opinion on economics because you're a woman."

• "You can't have an opinion on the struggles that minorities face because you're white."

• "You can't have an opinion on the struggles that women go through because you're a man."

...and so on ad infinitum.

This manner of speaking underhandedly takes away a person's voice and leaves them faceless, imposes our own opinions upon others as if they were irrevocable and infalliable "truths", and negates the accountability of all involved. When taken to extremes, it is dehumanizing and is used to rationalize violence and genocide. By perceiving ourselves as "more" and others as "less", we become comfortable in harming them.

On more subtle levels, the situation can take on the quality of a manipulative pleading. We might fight to emphasize that someone else is responsible for the "most suffering", while simultaneously posturing that it is us who has "suffered the most". It is an argument over playing the blame game at the pity party. Everyone loses and has a bad time.

This extends into the culture around us, setting entire groups of people at odds with one another for the actions of a few. Entire philosophical stances get reduced to meaningless labels that others are pigeonholed into, or are used as a means to weasel our way out of self-responsibility. He hates "women", or at least his idea of them, but his behavior isn't misogynistic, he is simply a "male right's activist". She hates "men", or at least her idea of them, but her behavior isn't misandrist, she is simply a "feminist". Both use their misunderstandings to justify their hatred and solidify its presence through their stubborness. They pass their prejudices onto others like a virus and the cycle repeats, persisting through space and time until we each challenge our part within it.

How far we have come, yet how little we have gained. Where is the virtue in being "right" at the expense of another?

The fact of the matter is, one person could never completely know what it is like to be another person. But our characteristics do not have to blind us from mutual understanding and respect. For example, a man will never know what it is like to be pregnant, but that does not mean that he is incapable of acting considerately towards a woman who is. Someone who is of one race will never truly become another, but we don't have to all be the same in order for us to live and work together towards everyone's benefit.

Some people may sow discord in an attempt to reap control over others, and one may simply follow along if they are not present and aware.

Through indiscrimination we undermine our cause, and through idleness we are complicit.

No one is "right", yet everyone is involved.

The question is: How can we heal the violence within our communities, while simultaneously cleaning out the corruption within the systems intended to regulate them?

The only options are transparency, so that we can fully know what we each contribute, and accountability, so that each may be fully responsible for the consequences of their actions.

In these, prejudices are resolved now and forever.