Prejudice is an insidious moral and social disease that affects billions of people all over the world. Its symptoms and manifestations include fear, intolerance, separation, segregation, discrimination, and hatred. However, in my opinion the main cause for prejudice is simply ignorance. All of us whether we want to admit to it or not suffer from some forms of prejudice. We might hate someone because of the color of his skin, his nationality or ethnic background, his religion, his sexual preference, his politics, his socio-economic background, his profession, and even silly things, such as the color of his eyes and hair.
None of us come out of our mother’s wombs as prejudiced human beings. We must be taught to hate. This sadly occurs in our homes and in our neighborhoods. The media, such as TV, news programs, and movies are often catalysts in presenting false impressions of groups of people that lead to hate and misunderstanding. When we do not know an individual or group, we consciously and unconsciously begin to characterize them based on what we see or hear. This ignorance about the true character or personality of the person or group causes us to create stereotypical opinions that are most likely negative but not necessarily true.
Prejudice at an intellectual level is not that difficult in which to deal. However, the problem is that prejudice is not just an intellectual thing. It is deeply rooted in emotions. If these emotions are not addressed, they can result in hatred, and this hatred can fuel actions that result in violence. Examples of this are the terrorist attacks around the world and other hate crimes against homosexuals, racial groups, and religious groups.
Even though prejudice has become a serious universal problem, it can be greatly reduced if not totally eliminated if our society truly desires it. The cure must begin with people becoming open-minded and with more educational programs being implemented. We must first use our imagination to start the process of seeing the other person’s point of view. We must all work together to stop or reduce the hatred in our world; one person cannot do it by himself. We can help each other by demonstrating mutual respect for each other and by refusing to put negative, unkind, or unfair labels on people or groups. This is not an easy task, but if we do not start with ourselves, this problem will never start to disappear or improve.
Our schools, religious institutions, and community groups can become our educators. Groups or classes can be created that discuss issues related to prejudice. Dialogue from group members who have experienced acts of prejudice and then an open discussion can help other group members to begin to identify with the feelings of these people. Field trips to neighborhoods or communities unlike the group members would reveal a different life style. Activities involving role playing, cultural and heritage day events, and small group projects on a different culture, religion, etc. would enhance better understanding of our differences. We are already doing some of these activities, but we need so many more, and we need to get more and more of our society involved in them.
The bottom line is this: we need to interact personally with people who do not share our culture, our religion, etc. Only by doing this can we truly understand what it is like to be the people we think we do not like. In the end, we will discover that basically all of us are the same and share the same basic needs to survive and to be happy in our complicated world.
I will close by sharing a poem I wrote specifically to end this article. I hope you read it carefully and understand how deeply I feel about this disease of our society.
By Randi D. Ward
I hate the color of your skin.
I hate the stupid way you think.
I hate the country you live in.
I hate all people who wear pink.
I hate your faith and how you pray.
I hate you because you hate me.
I hate and hate more and more every day.
I hate the whole world that I see.
This is our tragic current world state of mind.
People treat others badly instead of being kind.
They hate people for reasons, big and small.
They would rather see others stumble and fall.
For those of us who love all people with our open hearts,
We long to fill these vile hearts with cupid’s loving darts.
Life passes in the blink of an eye so we must be wise
And fill it with loving words and not vicious comments and lies.
The truth is none of us are perfect so we have no right
To judge others; our lives are far from pure and white.
It would be magnificent if we could wipe out hate from our land
And reach out to each other and grasp a friendly hand.
The world needs people whose lives they are willing to share
And who genuinely embrace others and who honestly care.
We have a gigantic job to do as citizens of this great planet we adore.
We must try to make positive changes and even so much more.
We must teach our children to be open-minded and kind.
We must try to change each and every prejudiced mind.
We must step out of our comfort zone and not live in fear.
We must speak to others and open up our ears and hear.
We must learn to accept that differences are acceptable and great.
We must accept that our ways are not the only ways before it’s too late.
Unjust prejudice and hatred are causing turmoil and death everywhere.
For people in the world like me, this is heart-breaking and impossible to bear.