(Information for this essay comes from the following sources: the books “Personhood” by Ken Munro
Dr. Leo F. Buscaglia, “When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough” by Rabbi Harold Kushner)
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Prejudice and bigotry are not a monopoly of a few people. These beliefs are all around us. There are people who feel that they are better, more superior and more useful and, therefore, deserve preferential treatment than their fellow person.
Yes, it’s a form of bigotry when the straight community feels more important than the gay community. When whites feel supreme over blacks. When men feel more important than women.
And, of course, bigotry runs in religious circles. There are religious groups who believe their faith is superior to other faiths.
And it’s all wrong.
But bigotry is all around us, subtle, hidden away. And just as poisonous.
Isn’t a form of bigotry when our politicians give themselves pay raises and perks because of their alleged “usefulness?” We often hear “we must pay them good money to recruit the best minds”. I wouldn’t mind their pay raises if they were truly solving the problems that plague us.
And isn’t it a form of bigotry when certain political parties cater to those that appear more useful like the wealthy and, thereby, giving them tax breaks, incentives and other preferential treatment because they invest and create wealth??
Isn’t it a form of bigotry when people, thinking that they are above the law, are constantly driving while distracted – i.e. texting or driving while intoxicated? They refuse to obey these laws or feel the laws don’t apply to them.
Do people not express a sense of bigotry when they refuse to see any other side of an issue, when they refuse to take their blinders off and insist that their way is the only way, when they close their minds to new ideas??
Do people not show bigotry when they feel no accountability to their fellow person, feeling such a person made his own destiny. They refuse to stoop down, pick someone up by offering a helping hand?
Isn’t it a form of bigotry when people make sweeping generalizations about other peoples’ failures and misery, not knowing the whole story?
That their failures may be due to life being truly difficult and overwhelmingly challenging?
That success has eluded them not because they haven’t tried but because of rotten timing and bad luck?
That their loneliness maybe due to suffering from a social phobia because they have not learned good social skills?
We’re better at building walls because we have lost the art of good conversation and, thereby, have become cold, not trusting one another. We’re better at communicating with our laptops and cellphones than with each other.
And isn’t if a form of bigotry when people, pre-occupied with themselves, cannot show basic manners - a simple act of sacrifice? Though they expect such courtesies to be shown to them, they can not be bothered to express them to others. So much for the Golden Rule.
And isn’t it a form of bigotry when people think of themselves as being better than the rest, expecting and demanding the best?
Snobbish and arrogant in their attitudes and behaviours, they must have the best whether its fashion, food, lifestyle. Second class will not do. They feel that anybody who is not of their level is not worth associating with.
But the greatest sense of bigotry is our hatred, put downs towards ourselves. We refuse to acknowledge our worthiness, struggling with the idea that we are worthy of love and importance.
It’s more than loving ourselves. It’s about accepting ourselves.
We refuse to accept ourselves as unique creatures with talents and gifts, capable of making a difference.
We must realize that most people do not have it together. Canadian religion author Tom Harpur claims that we are all weak and the fact by being human we are all vulnerable. And he suggests that the way in which we conquer our weaknesses is to confront them directly. This is the first step in spiritual and moral growth.
We sometimes feel that we don’t measure up to God’s standards. But religion should liberate us. It’s man’s distortion of faith that has hurt us.
In Judaism, a person is created in the image of God. Therefore, man is not sinful in nature but good. And religion does not demand of us to be perfect. It allows us to be human. In the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes 7:15 - 17, we read that we should be neither too good nor wicked.
And according to the Talmud, a book of wisdom which is part of the Jewish faith states: “At Judgment day, every man will have to give account for everything which he might have enjoyed and did not.” The problem arises when these good things are taken to extreme, becoming addictive. But that is our fault, not God’s.
Even in the Christian faith, we are accepted. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8: 38 – 39)
For so many, there is no harder task than to love and accept ourselves. There are so many forces telling us otherwise.
As writer and novelist Paul Eldridge (1888 – 1982) stated that “if we were brought to trial for the crimes we had committed against ourselves, few would escape the gallows.”
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