Thursday, September 17, 2009
This is an honest program
All the talk on news shows about racism has made me examine my own thoughts on the subject. I have always considered myself to be open minded and yes...liberal in my ideas. I like to think that I don't judge people and have great compassion for others.
But this is an honest program. And in doing an inventory of myself last night, I realize that there are some elements of racism within myself. And that I do have some judgmental thoughts. These are not thoughts of hatred or dislike but thoughts that come up almost as a reflex when I see an interracial couple, or young men with baggy pants hanging out on street corners. These same thoughts of judgment come up when I see a morbidly obese person. And yes, when I see two men kissing there is a bit of feeling uncomfortable. I don't like this about myself. So I decided to look deeper at some of the reasons.
I suppose the overriding factor is that I have been exposed to the stereotyping of others. I grew up in the South where there were lots of racial tensions. I believe that the element of fearing those who are different from me and viewing them in a "less than" way was something that I heard a lot about on TV, in schools, and even in the church. It's almost as if there is a hypocritical thought process that occurs--yes, you are my equal but only up to a point.
The south that I grew up in and inhabit today continues to hold up white America and its cultural values as the right, good, and ideal. I hear it all around me, not overtly, but with insidious overtones. I think that being self-righteous is dangerous. It is designed to create discontent and can lead to making people feel that they are "less than". I know because I have felt "less than" over many years. And that is why I developed an attitude of self-hatred as well.
Thankfully, I know in my mind and heart that no race is superior to another because superiority amongst any race, culture, gender, class or even individual doesn't exist. We are all God's children and we are one species Homo sapiens. But there are differences in culture, religion, artistic expression, and a host of other attributes that make us who we are. I find that when I accept the differences, embrace them, and am in awe of them my judgments disappear.
Just as I don't sit around and contemplate whether the oak is more beautiful than the maple or the lion more powerful than the tiger, I realize that there is much good that comes from having diversity in nature and in our cultures. I don't fear diversity in nature, in fact I find it fascinating. I realize that the differences amongst us humans teach me much more than if we all had the same thoughts, ideals, intellect, and culture.
So my self-realization and inventory showed me that I need to continue to work on accepting and not judging. I do know that if I let fear, ignorance and hate separate me from others, I am not practicing the principles of the program in my life. It is only by embracing others with open mindedness that I'll be able to garner the appreciation, respect, and awe for not only the differences that exist among us but also for the uniqueness that exists in myself.