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ART & Prejudice Project
Why not “Love” and “Inclusion” but “Prejudice” and “Discrimination?”
by Shahin Shahin
“In each of us there is another whom we don’t know.” - Carl Jung
Countless research works have been done and myriads of solutions based upon the psychological, philosophical, anthropological, social, economical, and so forth have been offered and yet, the world we live in is not a prejudice-free-world because we see many forms of prejudice in action either overtly or covertly in our daily lives and affairs.
The questions that are posed in this article are: “ am I or are we prejudiced?” And if I am or we are, am I or are we denying it? And if yes, why?
Prejudice, as it is known to many, derives from the roots of pre-judgment, judgment in advance without knowing all the facts. It connotes disagreement, belittlement, or hate. Prejudices are not always associated with violence, but they can terminate into different degrees of violence the worst of its form is genocide.
The psychological root of prejudice, as is agreed upon by the majority of psychologists is the externalization or projection of some unwanted parts of one’s mind or feelings onto the image of another. And that by itself can be considered as a pivotal mechanism of one’s prejudice.
But where does all this internalization and projection come from? Why is it always easier to blame others for our own mistakes, or despise a hated feature in someone else or a group than in oneself? Obviously, hating or not accepting that feature in someone else helps one to hide one’s hated part.
The seriousness of this question, an honest look into our own selves, an authentic encounter with our answers, and a blatant initiative shift from the monotony of a long-lived attitude into an inspiring refreshed thinking mode, might help us to have a better understanding of such calamity on earth.
When one authentically faces one’s own prejudices, then one can come up with the creation of a connection that bridges the like-minded and the like-hearted individuals who can together initiate ways to not condemn and punish the prejudiced persons but to expand their level of consciousness to a degree that they can unlearn all the futile beliefs that were transferred to them from generations to generations. And this goes along with an ancient aphorism which says, “Recognition produces relationship” the meaning of which can be more elaborated as, “unless we recognize the problem within us, we can never change and trans-pass that problem.
That is why it is always much easier to point finger at others proclaiming our own moral, religious, political, social, racial, or economic superiority. Feeling better and superior are the two most prevalent mechanisms in the domain of prejudice.
In spite of all the differences regarding the concept of prejudice, there is a consensus that prejudice is a learned behavior; Man is not born prejudiced. The internalization of prejudice starts with parents, and teachers in the primary stages of one’s life, and in later stages, the radio, television, newspapers, magazines, books, movies, media, propaganda, and so forth.
As far as our historical records reveal, there is no community or society in the world that has been immune to prejudice and discrimination. In the mythological lore, we come across the existence of countless stories and fables that reveal prejudice and discrimination of some sort.
Our effort needs to be focused not on the eradication of prejudice (because it is a learned behavior) but on unlearning it.
If Man has a developed brain to use his intelligence; if he has the ability to stand erect in a standing position; if he is capable of handling objects with his hands; if he is able to use natural objects and transform them into tools to serve his needs; if he has been capable to create such rich culture and civilization; if he has been capable to step on the moon, and if it is the power of his speech that makes him unique among all other kingdoms in Nature and distinguishes him from all other animals’ why then, is he not capable of unlearning His habit of being chronically prejudiced?
But one cannot eradicate evil without ensuing the existence of goodness.
Unity is humankind’s natural condition and diversity is the essential ingredients or building blocks of global life. One in the many, Unity in a diversity of forms can be recognized and revered in our daily life through our daily practice of Love. And love in this context is not about an emotional love. Love in this context refers to the “will to love” regardless of the emotional baggage one carries at all times.
Resentment, hatred, heartlessness, aloofness, detachment, and apathy as contributors to
prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination, scapegoating, racism, sexism, and genocides, are not part of the natural order. They are chronic, social, psychological, and spiritual illnesses that need to be paid serious heed.
Man, like any other form of life is not born empty. He is filled with countless potentialities to be actualized in an appropriate environment.
The natural order in human life is At-one-ment, to be united with one another, to love one another, to cooperate and not compete with one another. In the human domain, everything is dependent upon “otherness” and not my-ness or me-ness. In the human kingdom, the meaning of me is outside of me. The meaning of anything that is, is outside of itself. For example, if we eliminate wives, husbands don’t mean anything. The yin and yang are the embodiment of the same concept in Buddhism and other cultures.
May we humans be awakened and reminded of the truth that the law of survival is not the primary law of the human kingdom. The primary law of our kingdom is “At-one-ment” i.e to be united with one another, to find meaning outside ourselves, to cooperate, co-create, co-evaluate, and co-author our lives again and again.
Without each other, we are doomed to live a torturous life, if there will be any life!
So if, in each of us there is another whom we don’t know, whether an enemy or an ally then,
“Let’s meet and befriend that stranger, that alien who has morphed into an enemy within us. And since we owe allegiance to that alien therefore we need to call him/her back home where she/he belongs.
May we ever drop the blind imitation of the past.