By Rick Kraft
At the risk of offending every one of you, let me tell you some things you already know. I’ll just put them into words. You can say they are wrong, but they are reality.
We, as humans, are complex beings. We didn’t land on this planet yesterday with no preprogramming. We are each imperfect people, raised by imperfect people, living side by side with imperfect people. We each have a history that lead us to today. Some of our history we chose and some of our history chose us.
Recognize here the historical statues being torn down are of imperfect people. The mobs pulling them to the ground are made up of imperfect people. Also, understand the same people throwing stones at others claiming they are bigots likely have the same “bigot” disease themselves. Okay, have I sufficiently offended you yet?
Truth be known, we are all prejudiced including gender, race, and otherwise. Let me illustrate this with a simple example.
On a dark evening a stranger comes to your door and rings your doorbell. You have never met the stranger before. You walk to your door, turn on your porch light, and look out your peephole. Who you see on your front porch will make a difference in whether or not you open your door or leave it locked.
In just a second with one glance you have formed an opinion of another person that may be entirely wrong. It is human nature. It is not your fault. But based upon your background, where you live, and outside influences, you have within you a complex judgment system.
If the person at your door is large and muscular, you will form one opinion of him. If he has a trench coat on with his hands in his pockets, you form another opinion. If he has braided hair and a scar on his face, you’ll go another direction with your flash opinion. If he’s in a wheel chair, you’ll make other assumptions. And we haven’t even gotten to age or skin color yet.
I don’t care what your age, or gender, or skin color, or political party affiliation, religious belief, or what city you live in. You’ll jump to an immediate decision based upon the face and stature of the person outside your door. What you do next depends on what you see.
I guarantee each of you can imagine a type of person on the other side of your door you would not open the door for. If your discretion is based upon age or race or gender, you’re clearly discriminatory. You are stereotyping a person you’ve never met. Just because a man has a blue mohawk and tattoos all over his face doesn’t mean he’s not an upstanding member of your community.
Likely, a 75 year-old, gray haired well dressed white male would get the door opened quicker than a dark skinned tattooed long haired 20 year old. Does that make everyone who doesn’t open the door for the younger man a racist? Some would say so. It sure sounds discriminatory to me. The old man may be dangerous and the young man harmless, but before either knocks on the front door, reality tells us that the woman inside her home has some preconceived perceptions of strangers.
Why do you think people respond differently to different people? Does that make every one of us bigots? Or are we just “street smart”?
So with all this being reality, where do we go from here? How do we respond to imperfect people who are collectively bullying others and attacking them when they have racial tendencies themselves? I think this calls for a response that is personal to you. In this world today, whatever I say next will be wrong in the eyes of those seeking to bring about change by aggression and bullying.
All I know is that my job is to do the best I can with myself. I have a three foot circle around me that I control and sometimes that is all the further my control reaches. I recognize I’m far from perfect. Anyone who wants to ask me enough questions can find areas where I still don’t have it right.
Having said this, I struggle with others who don’t have it right attacking me for what I stand for. For me to change my life because of a person who throws a brick through a window, steals what is in the store, or because of a person who burns down a business is not something I’m interested in doing. Who are they to pass judgement on me or to tell me what is right when they are doing wrong?
Two thousand years ago a woman who committed adultery was brought to Jesus by men with the request that she be stoned. This story is in the Bible in John 8, verses 1 to 11. Rather than participate in the stoning, Jesus said to those who were about to throw stones, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one they left.
I know I’ve shared some deep and sensitive thoughts. Maybe this writing can be used to begin a discussion in your home that will lead to recognizing these issues and then improving our view of the world.
My challenge to you today is to understand there are some out there who truly deserve to be called racial bigots, but there are many who are not. Despite each of us being programmed differently, what we perceive is real if we perceive it.
Maybe we need to reevaluate our perceptions and work on them. Maybe by raising our awareness with a discussion with others, we can improve. Change is likely necessary for each of us.
At the same time, be careful you don’t get bullied into a place you don’t belong because you lose your compass on what is right and wrong. Just because a gathering of people feel something, that doesn’t make it right. Many lynch mobs have been successful in killing an innocent victim.
Through it all work on yourself and the three foot circle around you and work on your family and those you influence to help conquer unjust views that harm others.
Just a thought…
Rick Kraft, a South Pasadena High School graduate, is a syndicated columnist, a motivational speaker, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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