This blog addresses intellectual aversion and emotional rants against ‘them.’
Let us face up to our shadows revealed whether liberal or conservative, religious or secular, materialistic or spiritual, believer or disbeliever or going in all directions.
- Not based on actual experience, not based-on clarity of mind, nor reason.
- A negative assumption towards a particular group regularly repeated.
- Widely promoted, fixed and oversimplified image of set of beliefs/views held by a group of people or individual.
- To have a fixed idea about others, distorted and out of touch.
- A belief that a group will always behave in a particular way.
- A preconceived and oversimplified belief about a group of others, which leads to treating them as inferior.
Twelve Steps for Living without Prejudice (Pre-judgement)
Intention matters. Let us question ourselves and others. If you have the intention to dissolve stereotype of others, read on. If you wish to address the prejudice of others, read on.
If you have no interest to explore change, there is little point in reading on.
- Reflect deeply on the most basic and preliminary of ethics, namely, to treat others as one wishes to be treated.
- Be honest. How much direct contact have you had with those who you point your finger at? Have you spent time with them and their community?
- Do you realise stereotyping (islamophobia, antisemitism, racism, sexism and nationalism) starts or reinforces the prejudices of others including the stereotyped?
- Observe a specific form of Noble Silence. Do not say the word of the group you heap blame upon for a year and a day. Do you look down on Muslims, Jews, Americans,Russians, Chinese, refugees or the political, left/right. Find inner space free from the perpetuation of reactivity.
- Does your stereotyping of a group of people get you attention? Does your career, income and self-worth depend on believing you are right, and they are wrong, problematic, deluded and dangerous.
- When did you first start espousing these violent views? What happened? Did you feel bad about yourself and then you needed to find an outlet for blame? Did the media hysteria at the time contribute to your unresolved fear and blame landing on a group? Did your attacks get stronger on the group (religion, ethnicity, race, gender…)?
- Remember the time before your prejudices started. Keep going back to the time before such reactivity. Your prejudice might have started in childhood.
- Did influential authority figures influence your perceptions – parents, politicians, family members, the press, social media, literature, movies or friends?
- Examine the various causes and conditions for human suffering owing to identifying with views that stereotype others?
- Remember you do not have to think lovingly of groups of people. You do not have to take up spiritual/religious language, such as We are all One or We are all God’s children. Do you understand the difference between prejudice and a thoughtful, unwavering critique of your deep concerns about the other?
- Are you willing to end generalisations about others and the arrogance of believing you know who they are, what they are like and their behaviour?
- What views contribute to fuelling fear and blame onto others and the subsequent horror upon the stereotyped? Do you like being stereotyped with others as being out of touch, unreasonable and living with a jaundiced view?
Hypocrisy means we claim higher standards or a civilised approach with whom we identify as sharing our views. Evidence may show that this is not the case. We expect change in others but cannot make a change in ourselves or those we identify with.
Who has to change?
If we want others to change their prejudices, views and ways, show them we can change our prejudices, views and ways too.
May all beings be free from the reactive image and projections onto the other
May all beings see the real
May all beings respond wise action to the real.
Hi Christopher, I thought this piece that you wrote here was an interesting and conscientious attempt to get to grips with the thorny problem of prejudice. If I said that you hadn’t quite got there, that would in no way be an adverse criticism as I don’t think anybody has done that so far, which is why prejudice and all that goes with it remains such a challenge for the world at large. If you are looking for constructive engagement with what you have to say, I would be happy to contribute something, depending on what you are expecting when you share your thoughts. I should probably mention that I am here mainly because of an interest in world history which I shared (literally) with Phra Khantipalo or perhaps I should say, which he shared with me. He is of course the mutual point of connection between you and me, which brought me here. I should also say that I am by no stretch of the imagination a ‘spiritual’ person as that term is widely understood. My involvement with Buddhism is a tenuous one and mainly to do with something called MSPE, in which I am trained as a teacher and which is an applied form of Westernised Mindfulness meditation derived initially from the work of Jon Kabat Zinn with the Olympic rowing team in the 1980s. I doubt that I would have the patience for the kind of debate they might have had at the monasteries of Nalanda but if you want a down-to-earth, focussed conversation around the practical implications of what you had to say here, as I see them, then I would be happy to participate. Andy Morley