Surviving in the world of “isms”

Racism. Sexism. Ageism. Antisemitism.

We humans like to label people and things so we can navigate life without thinking too much.

We categorize because it makes life simpler. We’ve been doing it since time immemorial – large animals with big teeth are bad, apples are good, the guys from the other clan (church, town, company, political party) must be subdued or suppressed.

We’re suspicious of anyone who isn’t like us. Men and women often don’t understand each other. Same thing with old people and young people, black people and white people, straight people and LGBT people.

We might actually like “the other guys” if we got to know each other. It’s simply that our crocodile brains see someone who isn’t like us and our guard goes up. We fear others because we think they might take something from us – our property, our freedom, or our beliefs.

So what do we do about it?

One thing we can do is to take a moment to listen to the other people. Really listen. Not to their complaints and outrage, but to their hopes and dreams and to their hearts.

Listening is hard work and it doesn’t come easily to us.

We can be aware that others can’t “make us” feel anything. If we say “they make me angry” or “I feel threatened by them”, we’re wrong. Feelings come from the inside out, not the outside in. No one can MAKE you feel ANYTHING.

Since they get so much free publicity in the media, we need recognize that the organizations and groups that foment outrage and violence are doing the exact opposite of what they say they want to do.

Peace doesn’t come from throwing Molotov cocktails or bags of excrement. Peace comes from understanding and forgiveness.

Leave a Reply