Thursday Thought #138: I Am Prejudiced

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I am prejudiced. I was raised to blindly trust teachers, but learned of many in later years who betrayed the trust and safety of their students. I grew up believing that people with money and white picket fences didn’t have any “real” life problems, later learning how true tragedy can strike any socioeconomic level. I long believed that having mental health issues meant flying off the handle — and that people who smiled and hugged and laughed couldn’t also experience long periods of depression or even suicidal thoughts. Until I didn’t. The meaning of prejudice is just “pre-judgment”. A pre-judgment based on social conditioning or media, or a set of firsthand experiences — regardless of the number. Or perhaps all three factors, and more. Sometimes these pre-judgments are useful. They allow us to quickly assess danger or move toward safety and community. But pre-judging can also be dangerous. It can prevent us from seeing and considering the individual person right in front us. It can fool us into thinking that our outside perception of a person or situation is reflective of the truth in the background. As often as I can, I try to replace prejudice with critical thinking. It’s very easy to fall back into heuristics, to let an automatic reaction or a pattern of behavior dictate how we treat other people or how we even engage social issues. So bringing our prejudices to the table and exposing them will allow us to connect with people more quickly, and understand where they’re coming from. But more importantly, it allows us to build solutions to complex social situations. I am prejudiced. And I always will be. But so are all of us. The question is, what will we do about that? How can we engage other without malice to bring…

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