Earlier today, I made a sarcastic comment about how people are innocent until proven guilty. It was in reference to the Canadian-American family that had been rescued from the Taliban. One person commented about how they shouldn’t be trusted.
My sarcastic comment garnered some negative reactions, but one stood out, especially the first two sentences…
“There is nothing wrong with being prejudice. Intelligent people understand it is a survival skill.”
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Did this person actually say that? Did they mean it, or was it some odd piece of humour?
Nope, he meant it.
Recently, I have seen numerous examples of what I have called “Casual Racism/ Prejudice”. People saying things that they may have heard from family members, peers, whoever, that they haven’t realized is not appropriate in this day and age. That can almost be forgivable. They’ve said it so often that any negativity attached to it is oblivious to them. It has become a part of their vocabulary.
Knowing you are prejudice, and believing it to be a positive thing, and admitting it in a public social media feed, is still kind of shocking. Then, to say that “intelligent people understand it is a survival skill.”? What kind of intelligent people do that?
It brings to mind a conversation I had many years ago with a girl I was dating. We were watching some trashy TV show about prisoners. She mentioned that she would rather be locked up with a white prisoner than a black prisoner. I was puzzled, asking what the difference would be, they are both prisoners. She never had a clear answer, and the conversation moved on. But looking back now, it is still perplexing.
Maybe she was one of those “intelligent” people the prejudiced guy was talking about.
This kind of mentality has been around forever. But it just seems like in the past year or so, it has become more prevalent. It would be obvious to blame Donald Trump for making narrow-minded, prejudiced, racist thinking mainstream. I’m sure he helped. He seemed to normalize it, made it more acceptable. If the President of the United States can talk and act like he does, if he can placate the lowest common denominator (IE: the Deplorables), then their way of thinking, their prejudiced and racist mentality, can finally be heard, especially through social media.
But that kind of thinking, from the casual racist to the guy saying there is nothing wrong with prejudice, has always been there. Trump just gave them a voice, now they’re running with it, embracing their ignorance and fear and hatred, and renaming it “patriotism”, “intelligence”, and “acceptance”.
I wish I could say Canada was immune to this way of thinking, but it isn’t. I just worry for the future, when our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is eventually defeated and replaced with a new PM. Will it be like is was in America? A strong, liberal leader followed by a harsh, hatred-spewing jackass who will embolden the ignorant and fearful? Thankfully, even our Conservatives aren’t as right-wing as the Republicans. But, one can never know the future.
I used to think that all this prejudice, racism, and hatred would eventually die out along with the older generation, and that the youth, having learned more about the world, wouldn’t bother with the hate-speak that came before them. But I’ve heard the next generation, and some aren’t much better. In fact, the spoiled, self-centered mentality of some may make them worse.
It is all of these negative thoughts, speech, and actions that truly dishearten me. I was raised to not judge people by what they look like, but by their character, their actions and deeds. These days, the only time I judge anyone is by the stupidity of their actions, especially when it is a burden, or threat, to others.
I find it harder and harder to remain true to who I am. It is so easy to get caught up in the negativity, to try to open their eyes, or at the very least, give them pause. But that only happens in the movies or on TV. In real life, only a drastic change can alter a person’s view of the world. A death of a loved one. A near-death experience. The birth of a child.
No one’s mind will be changed by a comment on social media. Yet we keep posting, commenting, arguing, getting frustrated, unfriending people, blocking people, carrying that seething with you.
All of this reminds me of a story…
A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.
The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.
Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey.
The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.
Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”
The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?
I carried what that guy said with me all day and used it to write this blog. It may not have been positive, but at least I did something constructive with it.
People who carry prejudice, racism, any kind of discrimination around with them, must carry that burden for so long. As they get older, it gets heavier and heavier, until it consumed them. It is all they know. They will only know the narrowness of their minds, and see those that are different as threats to be feared and hated.
Honestly, despite my disbelief and anger with people like that, I also pity them.