Friday, July 27, 2012


Prejudices. We’ve all got them. Can’t NOT have them, for the very way we take in data precludes us to prejudice. We have two eyes and two ears and one body all receiving the limited amount of information we can handle. And we grow up in a particular culture in specific settings. We are who we are and it behooves us to know that. That knowledge in and of itself is freeing. But the prejudices are not.
            When we’re born there’s no way we can let all the impressions in. The data overload would kill us. And so we create filters so we can handle the input. And in building those filters, we create camps—GOOD camps and BAD ones. Babies are born knowing that falling is in the BAD camp. And from then on we make judgments and set our standards. GOOD. BAD. We tick them off.
            But occasionally we need to check them out. Crossing the street alone at age two is definitely in the BAD camp. But after some years, for most, that activity could be put into a GOOD camp. It’s always a personal issue, dependent upon the person and the situation. Doesn’t mean that when I realize a prejudice, it automatically goes from BAD camp to GOOD. No. I have free agency and must consciously free myself. Not always easy. I have a friend who recently freed herself from one. She was looking to buy a house. She realized one day that no matter what city she was in, she knew everything “south” was BAD. She still bought a house in the northern area of her town, but not because she had to. It made sense to do so as it was close to where she worked.
            That’s why it’s so freeing to check out our prejudices every once in a while. Some times they are so silly. Some times they’re deadly.
            My father’s boss Don was a second generation Scot. I remember one dinner when Don related this story. His uncle had gone back to Scotland to clear up the family estate. There was little left, an old scantily furnished stone cottage and an ancient family Bible. Don told us his uncle said the Bible had all the family names going back a long way. “But,” his uncle said, “Ach, they were terrible spellers. There was a Peggy Murky but they spelled it M-U-R-P-H-Y.” Silly indeed. We all laughed. I wonder if Peggy did?

No comments:

Post a Comment