Let’s cut through the bullshit. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you.
Here’s why this is important; despite us not knowing each other, I will judge you and you will judge me. This is human nature. We make our judgements based on information we have available and our own historical perspective (or world view). Judgement might not be overt, but you and I are always engaging in making judgements. You might think this is a bad thing, but it’s not. Judgement, by itself, is nothing more than:
- the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing
- an opinion or estimate so formed
- the capacity for judging: discernment
- a proposition stating something believed or asserted
Judgement is good. When you judge me or I you, this could be a good thing; however, it’s only good without bias (unlikely).
Bias is a one-sided, closed-minded, and destructive mindset. Bias doesn’t discriminate, but it leads to discrimination. Look at the definitions of “bias”, “racism”, and “discrimination” for a second.
- Bias: Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. (Source: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/bias)
- Racism: Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized. (Source: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/racism)
- Discrimination: The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex. (Source: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/discrimination)
We can conclude that judgement is good, bias (and racism and discrimination) is bad.
You don’t know me; therefore, if you were to judge me, what would your judgment be based on? If you don’t get to know me, you’d have to judge based on superficial things like how I look, the vehicle(s) I drive, how I dress, etc.
What if I told you these things about me?
- I’m white/Caucasian.
- I’m a man.
- I have a long beard.
- I drive an F250 pickup truck.
- I drive a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
- I live in a small town.
- I have a good job.
- I am licensed to carry a firearm.
- I go to church every Sunday.
Would you think that I’m some sort of right-wing nut job? Would you treat me like one?
How about you? Let’s say:
- You’re black/African American.
- You’re a man.
- You look “normal”, but you’re not clean shaven.
- You’re middle-aged.
- You’ve never been married.
- You have plenty of money.
- You wear nice clothes.
- You drive nice sports cars.
- You didn’t graduate high school.
- You grew up in New Orleans
Would I think you’re a drug dealer, a thug, or involved in some sort of criminal activity? Would I treat you like you were?
God, I hope not!
In both cases, these judgements are 100% wrong! Like not even close. The judgements are wrong because they are biased.
Me, I am not some right-wing whacko. I despise most of what they stand for and I would never consider doing some of the things they do. Despite this, I can see how someone would mistake me for one. I look the way I look and like the things I like because I do. That’s it, nothing more and nothing less. I hate hatred in all its forms and have a genuinely deep love for people. I don’t just love people like me either, I love people from all walks, all backgrounds, and all beliefs. People who aren’t like me fascinate me.
About the only time I don’t love people is when I must share the road with them, but I’m told that’s sort of normal(ish).
The second person I referenced is Tyler Perry. He is an amazing man with an incredibly inspiring story. Rising from where he did to where he is now is a miraculous journey. He’s impacted thousands (maybe millions) of people across the globe with his works and his story. If you don’t know his story, I’d suggest you read up on him. He grew from a very troubled youth (shitty father figure, attempted suicide, child molestation, etc.) to become a tremendously successful actor, writer, producer, comedian, and director. In my opinion, he’s one of the most inspiring men alive today.
So, again, bias is bad. Put your bias to death as much as you are able.
What to work on
Here are some of the things I will work on to kill my own bias. I can’t change the world, but I can work on me. Here’s my pledge (to myself as much as anyone else):
- I will give people the benefit of the doubt. If I don’t know something to be true, instead or going the shitty route, I’ll take the good path in my thoughts and feelings toward others.
- I will seek other people’s perspectives. I don’t know what it’s like to be someone else. A person’s perspective is their reality. Understanding their reality and validating it where possible will go a long way towards killing my own biases.
- I will listen to people more. We’re all quick to offer advice and stories about the things we’re passionate about. I’ll do better at hearing these things from other people. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn a bunch.
- I will embrace the uniqueness in people. We all belong to people groups, either by birth or by choice. Despite whatever people group we belong to, there are beautifully unique things about each one of us. I want to discover the unique gifts in people and embrace them.
- I seek to change people and/or their minds less. You have your beliefs and I have mine. We can each be us.
- I’ll be a friend to anyone. This doesn’t mean there aren’t boundaries. All relationships have them, even friendships.
- I’ll work to find common ground. You’re not me and I’m not you. You believe certain things and so do I. We’re both human beings and if we can’t find anything more common than that, so be it. We’ll start there.
These are seven things that I’ll work on. I said it earlier, I don’t know you, so I can’t suggest the things you should work on. Only you can determine these things, and (probably) only after deep, honest introspection.
I truly love people, and it saddens me to see us hurt each other like we do.