[personal profile] wingedbeast
"I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body."

You might have said those words and believed them. It's a certainty that you've heard that phrase. It's a likelihood that, at least a few of those times you heard the phrase, you immediately knew it not to be true.

It's one of those claims that are easy to believe when you make them. Claims to being humble, to being loving and not hateful, to being kind, to not letting bad information lead you to false conclusions based on popular understandings. These are all easy claims to make. And, among those who most feel it their duty to turn me into a Christian, there's a tendency to believe those claims.

If you find yourself about to make such a claim ("I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body." "No, I'm really being loving to gay people." "I don't hold myself as superior to anybody.), stop. Do not make that claim and do not believe that claim.

I have not just called you a bigot or accused you of being an egotist.

What I am saying is that the only thing that's easier than making such claims is believing them when they're not true. Your prejudices don't announce themselves before they lead you to a false conclusion. When you think of yourself as humble, your moments of ego aren't likely leap out at you. When you think of yourself as a kind and loving soul, the times when you don't live up to your own image will often come paired with excuses or just slip by quietly as you don't even notice them.

All of that goes to say I just called you a human being.

When you make these claims, I believe that you believe them. But, I also know the reality of the situations.

These claims shouldn't be claims. They're goals. We human beings are never going to get it fully right. But, by taking a breath, taking a moment, and examining our behavior and taking in new information, we can do better a bit at a time. To use a phrase I like, we can get it less wrong.

But, when you make those claims, I know that you believe them, which means I know you're not doing that work. That signals to me that my work, having a conversation that moves forward in which people can learn knew things and grow as people, is all that much harder. If you do have a prejudice that is taking you to bad conclusions, it's going to be that much harder for me to convince you of that. If you, as many of you do, come from a place of assumed superiority, it's going to be that much harder to explain your own behavior to you.

Most people have similar experiences. The likely result isn't convincing people of the truth of your beliefs, but of how thoroughly your beliefs divorce from obvious reality.

It's a much harder slog, but it's the stuff of real humility.
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