Prejudice, a great time saver
Posted on 3rd May 2017 at 07:30
You may not have come across this quote before so, if you’re wondering what on earth we’re going on about, here’s the full version:
“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” E B White.
We were reminded of this truism a few weeks ago, in the aftermath of the stabbing outside Westminster. And the furore surrounding a photo of a woman walking past one of the victims laying on the ground.
So why was there such a furore about this particular woman?
Was the victim in need of her help? No, he was already being given first aid by a group of people.
Was she the only person who walked past? No.
Did she do anything to cause such outrage as she walked past? No.
So why was singled out? Quite simply because she wore a headscarf, the hijab, worn by Muslim women.
What’s so sad is how few people took the time to obtain a few facts before getting on their soapboxes and letting their prejudices take over.
Noticing the look of distress and fear on her face.
Considering how it would feel being caught up in such an incident. Let alone a woman out on her own.
Instead all the prejudices came to the fore, with sadly predictable results.
While we may each say that we wouldn’t have reacted like this, the sad truth is that we all have our particular prejudices. Large and small. Those we’re aware of. Many we’re not.
And, while we may not like to admit it, those prejudices that sweep us along as part of a group. Whether family, friends, colleagues or elsewhere. This is how we can end up doing – or saying – things we would never do – or say – on our own.
Perhaps it’s the person who looks different. Talks differently. Behaves differently. Lives in a way different to us. Has their own interests, beliefs or outlook on life.
Whatever it is, it’s all too easy to give our prejudices free rein without even being aware of it. And, once this is done, we’re blind to anything that’s at odds with them. Talk about tunnel vision.
And, yet, how often do we find ourselves having to revise our initial impressions and prejudices? Having to admit – if only to ourselves – that things weren’t quite as we thought they were?
So isn’t it about time that we had the courage to admit that we each have our own particular prejudices?
And, having done this, took the time to examine them. To see if they have any foundation in fact. After all, no one is born prejudiced, they’re taught it.
Then once we’ve seen that they aren’t founded in fact – or who we really are – to let them go.
After all they do us no credit, only hurting ourselves and those around us.
As Mother Teresa so beautifully put it: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
As always, the choice is yours.
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