First Take The Plank Out Of Your Eye,

and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

The bible, like many of the holy text of the world, has some great advice that many tend to ignore or quote but never follow. It often amazes me how people spend a great deal of time criticizing others while completely ignoring their current or past behavior. I am not perfect and as such I don't see why I should judge the actions of others. I have not walked in their shoes, I don't know what it is like to be them, have their thoughts or live in their skin.

I can look at their actions and judge those, but what right do I have to judge another human being? Let's take bigotry, an ill that in some form or another plagues every corner of our planet. it often amazes me how much time and effort people expend in justifying their bigoted views and behavior. They will use very different standards to judge the actions of those they are prejudiced against than they would use for members of their own group. If a member of their group claims discrimination, they will agree and voice sympathy, if a member of an out group does the same, they will angrily deny that any such thing has taken place. Even if the events in both stories are exactly the same, even if it is clear that historically there has been much more evidence for discrimination of the out group than of the in group.

If a black person cannot find a job, it is because they are lazy, if a white person can't it is because the job market is bad, if an Asian does well in math it is because they work hard, if a black person does it is because they were given some unfair advantage, if a white person says something negative about another racial group they must be racist, but if a black person does they are just being 'real'. The list goes on and on, different standards for different groups, for the same behavior.

The truth is we would much rather spend our time looking at the bad deeds of others rather than inspecting our own. We want to think the world is fair and that we get to where we are because of our skills and hard work, not because of some unseen advantage that we were never really aware of, but that on some level we know is there. So it is much easier for us look at the negatives of a group and use that to justify the unfairness of the world to that group, rather than admit that the world is just not fair, and life is much easier for some than it is for others, not because they are better, but because they happen to belong to a certain group.

So we keep stereotypes alive, because it helps us to live with ourselves, it reduces guilt and it makes the world a nice and tidy place. So when a woman is raped, it must be because she did something wrong, if black women are single at higher rates than other groups it must be because there is something wrong with them, if there are few women in high places it must be because women are less able than men, and similar sayings can be found for every group, white males, Jews, Arabs, Asians and the list goes on. It is always THEIR fault that bad things happen to them.

It would be nice if we spent as much time and energy looking at OUR contribution to the problem, rather than theirs. As a black woman I think that yes discrimination exists against us, but we should really support each other more, rather than pulling each other down, that black men should support us the way we have supported them over the years. I think that we should learn from the successes of other minority groups and work together more closely and demand that our children achieve despite the obstacles that have been thrown in their path, other groups have done this there is no excuse for us not to do the same.

Other groups need to do the same, the majority groups in any country should listen to the minorities and recognize that while much progress has been made, there is still racism and cultural bigotry in many societies. Pretending that it does not exist and silencing those that dare to point it out will not work for ever, it is dishonest and harmful to both. Bigotry hurts both the minority and majority groups and cannot be addressed by hiding your heads in the sand.

Women like blacks are at a point in most western countries where we can no longer blame men for all our ills, we have enough power to change things and at this point have nobody to blame for ourselves if things stay the same, and men at the same time, should recognize that sexism still exists and there are still many double standards when it comes to women.

So yes I am fascinated by the human ability to deny reality and live life looking at things the way we want them to be rather than the way they actually are.
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1 Response Feb 13, 2011

That last sentence - I think it's an ability that keeps us sane. For the most part, humans have had to live in the most twisted of societies. An ability to adapt and accommodate some contradictions without being disturbed by them is probably essential to survive.