I just read an opinion article on the CNN website (written by Richard Gabriel) that, for me, spoke volumes. His topic was racial bias, but many of the things he wrote can be applied to more than just race. For example, he points out that we’re all suspicious of “The Other.” In the Zimmerman case, it was the the young man in a hoodie, but the “Other” can also come in the form of a gay co-worker, the Muslim neighbor, the overweight teacher, the barista with tattoos and piercings, even the gun owner. I would add that it can also be those who do not agree with our religious viewpoints.
In other words, we tend to categorize those who seem different from ourselves. Our biases may be the result of life experiences but in many cases, they simply occur because the other person makes us feel uneasy.
While many of us like to think we are bias-free and may even vehemently deny any existence of prejudice or partiality, the cold hard truth is that none of us are neutral.
Even so, do we need to act upon our unfavorable feelings toward the people we consider different from us? Do we need to call them names? Avoid them on the street? Condemn them to a fiery future? Or, god forbid, kill them?
While I would love to see the day when we can talk without judging and listen without condemning, I’m doubtful it will happen. At least in my lifetime. As has been proven time and again, too many consider themselves righteously correct in their thinking and thus, are unwilling to take responsibility for any resultant actions.
There is little doubt that we will continue to read and hear tragic stories about abortion doctors, individuals in the LGBT community, the homeless, Muslims, and scores of others who do not fit within someone’s standards of worthiness.