Quotes for
the Journey:

Prejudice



 
Prejudices are the refuge
of those who cannot
think for themselves.


Comtesse Diane

   

Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.       -Charlotte Bronte

   

Prejudice is the conjuror of imaginary wrongs, strangling truth, over-powering reason, making strong people weak, and weak people weaker.  God gave us the large-hearted charity which "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things," which "thinketh no evil!"        -John Macduff

   
Prejudice is a seeping, dark stain, I think, more difficult to fight than hatred--which is powerful and violent and somehow more honest.        -Josephine Lawrence
   

Most people wish to be consoled, confirmed.  They want their prejudices reinforced and their structured belief systems validated.  After all, it hurts to think, and it's absolute agony to think twice.       -Jennifer Stone

   
Just as a child is born without fear, so it is born without prejudice.  Prejudice, like fear, is acquired.       -Marie Killilea
    
Those who are possessed with a prejudice are possessed with a devil, and one of the worst kinds of devils, for it shuts out the truth, and often leads to ruinous error.       -Tryon Edwards
    
Prejudices are the chains forged by ignorance to keep people apart.        -Countess of Blessington

  
Too many of our prejudices are like pyramids upside down.  They rest on tiny, trivial incidents, but they spread upward and outward until they fill our minds.        -William McChesney Martin
   
I was climbing up a mountain-path
With many things to do,
Important business of my own,
And other people's too,
When I ran against a Prejudice
That quite cut off the view.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    
For the most part, we tend to think of prejudice in terms of race, culture, or religion, but the word has much deeper significance than just the dislike of people with different skin colors or religious practices than us.  The term itself refers to a "pre-judgment," or judging a person or culture or object before one knows anything about it on an individual level.  It's a judgment made with really no knowledge at all about the individual or culture; thus, it's a judgment made in ignorance.

Most people who tend towards prejudiced judgments make their decisions based on incomplete knowledge, or they generalize a great deal.  A person who is prejudiced against Asians because a young Asian man insulted him two years ago is generalizing that one person's actions to an entire group of people, thinking that all Asians are the same as the one who insulted him.  The African-American who despises white people because his or her father was treated poorly by whites are judging all people with white skin to be the same as the people who hurt his or her parents.  The Christian who slanders Moslems because they don't believe the same things that he or she does is judging those people based on his or her own belief system, and is not looking at them as human beings who have grown up with their own systems of belief.

There is no doubt about it:  prejudice is easy.  Developing a prejudiced perspective of the world makes virtually everything black and white, with no room at all for shades of grey.  People are good or bad, and prejudiced people don't have to think further or learn more about anyone--their minds are already made up, and that's all there is to it.  Prejudice in some ways is a form of mental and emotional laziness, and in other ways it's a huge barrier that people use to hide behind, trying to eliminate threats to their feelings of safety and well being.

Prejudice becomes dangerous when people try to get others to share it.  I may be prejudiced against people with green skin, but as long as I keep that prejudice to myself it hurts no one but me.  Once I start to talk to my neighbor, though, and try to convince her that all green-skinned people are bad, then I'm causing harm.  And when we start talking about what we should do about the "problem" of green-skinned people, then we become truly dangerous.  In order to give ourselves credibility, we distort reality, we stretch facts, and we ignore the truth about the greenskins, just to make our case against them stronger.

At its most basic, prejudice is our willingness to believe bad about others without finding out the truth.  And my prejudice against greenskins means that I'm going to close myself off from learning from them, I'm going to deprive myself of what they have to share with me, and I'm going to live in fear of the greenskins becoming stronger than me and doing something horrible to me to pay me back for the way I feel about them.  That's no way to live a life, and by allowing my prejudices to control how I treat others, I'm dooming myself to continued ignorance and future fears.

The way to battle prejudice--in ourselves and in others--is simple.  We must educate ourselves as to the true nature of all people.  Individuals do not accurately represent any racial, religious, or cultural group, and we're taking the easy and lazy way out if we allow ourselves to define others by the actions of very few.

from livinglifefully.com
    
Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of people's skin, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.      -Lyndon B. Johnson
  
Unless we empty ourselves of preconceived cultural or intellectual images and expectations, we not only cannot understand the Other, we cannot even listen.  Indeed, we cannot even feel empathy.      -M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum
  
What does the color of one's skin tell us that is of any significance about a person?  Nothing, of course, absolutely nothing.  It does not say whether the person is warmhearted or kind, clever or witty, or whether that person is good.      -Desmond Tutu
  
Prejudice does not think logically.  It does not ask why, and remains on the deceptive surface.  The mark of the sage is the lack of prejudice, that of a fool, the lack of thought.      -Hans-Ulrich Rieker
  
The fact that we are human beings is infinitely more important than all the peculiarities that distinguish human beings from one another.      -Simone de Beauvoir
  
Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity.  Racism can, will, and must be defeated.     -Kofi Annan
 
Constantly I am having to fight and overcome my prejudices because I realize that first impressions and judgments are often misleading.     -Harvey Day
  

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