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Of prides and prejudices

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Let us have but one end in view, the welfare of humanity; and let us put aside all selfishness in consideration of language, nationality, or religion. — John Comenius, 17th century philosopher

Since I was asked in a job interview on what makes me angry, I have also been asking myself what makes me angry. When I was younger, the littlest of things make me angry. But when one gets older, one becomes more tolerant. Now, I think that there are more solid descriptions of the things that actually make me angry — I get angry when people lie, I get angry about injustice, I get angry about generalizations.

Most of the time, you don’t know when people lie to you or about you. Naturally, you will find it from other people and then by analyzing events. We see injustice around us everyday, we read about it in newspapers and see it on television. Most of the time, we do not know what to do with it or cannot do anything about it. But prejudices/generalizations we hear all the time, from passers-by or even the closest of associates. Mostly it starts with “he/she is like that because he/she is… (what’s next is supposedly the nationality, profession or religion of the person concerned)”. This is a flaw in the human character where we can definitely work on.

Prejudices can be the source of much evil. When we generalize, we close the door for possibilities. It narrows our understanding of the world and the person we’re generalizing about. People have different layers of character and to truly appreciate every individual is to get to know all of those layers.

But can one person be really free from prejudices? William James wrote that “a great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices”. So while I am now thinking of prejudices and getting angry about generalizations, I am actually just writing about my own prejudices, rearranging my thoughts, and trying to sound unprejudiced?

Appreciation for diversity is one of the values I truly hold dear. Although I still have preconceptions as any other human being, I also regard it as a source of wisdom and the road to world peace.

So I wonder how peacekeepers of our universe dealt with their preconceived notions. How do/did Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama or Mother Teresa work/ed on their prejudices? #