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Prejudice1: Humanity's “God”!









"Being down on anything you're not up on."

Carl Sandburg, on prejudice





"Most men, when they think, they are thinking,
are merely rearranging their prejudices."

Knute Rockne







[Prejudice seems ingrained in the human organism. It is our bias towards what we favor, over that we don't care for; and it seems to be a penchant we cannot overcome easily, because it means facing what we hold dearest; what is the deepest part of ourselves. It has made its way into our most important societal institutions, by coloring our beliefs2, and alienating others from us in the process. It is that thing that pretends to unite us, yet constantly divides us – and, at the deepest level, even from ourselves! We have even become its slave; and, hidden it in an illusion, we call “love”.

So, follow me now, as I try to understand that thing that should bring us all together, yet always seems to pull us apart; that “God” that isn't a God; that thing, we cannot seem to overcome: Prejudice!]



One thing, every religion that humanity has ever even dreamed of, has, is Prejudice!

In fact, as soon as humanity forms a group, it has begun that group, as different from all other groups, with the particular prejudices that group holds! And, religions, which were created to actually do away with any groups, or even prejudices, by uniting humanity, as something without groups, turned out to be the greatest prejudice creators of all times! This paradox of a God that unites through separation, is, in fact, religion's only real attribute today3!

The problem seems to be that each human creates the world, literally, in his or her own image! Yes, we live in a world of our own creation, even though we share it with so many others that we cannot even count them, let alone ever know any more than a handful of them in a lifetime! The world is ours, literally and figuratively – yet, we cannot even begin to control it. This is the enigma of humanity's mortality – a world that is personal; yet, at the very same time, anything, but that! Yet this individuality shapes this world for us; and, buries it in the prejudices of the body, it immediately lives in – a world intimately our own, yet outrageously not ours! So, how do we deal with this?

By creating groups!

From groups come beliefs – those, “cast in stone”, pieces of our world that we share with others to make us fit in! They are the prejudices we share; and even more, the prejudices that keep this world separated from itself. Can we create a group without creating prejudices? Probably not; because the group is itself centered about some particular prejudice or set of prejudices that all in the group share – that's why they are a group.4

In fact, even within our own minds, there is this division of the “group” working. Sigmund Freud5 was the first to discover that deepest hidden “group” within the human mind itself; he called it “the unconscious”. Today, that unconscious mind is what the religious groups target, by trying to make people feel guilt about the things, they do that break the rules that that religious group holds. This trick, of using guilt to form beliefs, is the main way that religion forms its members from its recruitment in its schools. The young are most susceptible to the guilt, they are made to feel, in not living up to the beliefs, the religious group holds. Society uses this same method, along with the family, by using that part of the unconscious mind known as the conscience. The conscience holds the mores of the society one belongs to; and keeps these as the moral standards, society holds. Thus the child grows up with an ingrown set of moral standards representing his or her society and family.

Religious groups replace these with their own moral standards – the standards of their own particular group. So this is how our earliest prejudices are formed, through the guilt these, built-in mechanisms cause us, when we go against these built-in prejudices, we acquire, before we are capable of challenging them with reason.

So, in effect, beliefs are the earliest prejudices, we hold that are themselves formed by society and the family (religions often becoming a part of this family structure, because of the parent's beliefs and their religion's effects, through its schools).

Likewise, politics and the economy also effect the family in a similar way: by creating beliefs in the young, before reason can challenge these beliefs. Thus our first prejudices are the strongest, and the ones least susceptible to the challenges of reason, because we take them for granted unconsciously.

But the major creator of these prejudices, later in life, are the way in which life itself treats us. If we grow up getting everything we want, we are less likely to challenge the environment that gave us such a life; even though we see so many others not getting what they want. It is easier to just put the blame of this on them, instead of the environmental factors that create their lives. Life is unfair to all, but the degree of this unfairness, varies so widely that it makes the extremes form prejudices totally at odds with each other. So it is easy for the rich, who get everything they want, to totally deny the problems of the poor; and blame the poor's problems on their own failings, instead of the society and its institutions, who have given them (the rich) everything they want. Thus they think: “If I can overcome the difficulties of life, why can't they?”

At the other extreme, the poor cannot see the advantages of a society that has given them so much hurt. They only see this hurt as the effect of society; and deny any blame for any of this. The truth is that both the individual and society share both the good and bad. There is culpability in both; for society is a process, which joins all its individuals together. That process is not a finished thing, but an evolving thing. Thus the individual must continue to make this process into a thing which never leaves out any of its participants. Today, politics tries to divide society into groups, which hold different ideas on the way society should be managed. Thus, parties create group prejudices (political theory), through which they try to control society. But, what is often forgotten in all this, is that society is not a constant stable thing; but a live, growing and changing process, that must outgrow these prejudices (theory) that the parties hold, and reshape them, to fit the current society's needs.

Also, different segments of society have different needs. The young do not need the same things, the old need. The prejudices of both young and old must be dealt with, to create a policy that takes both into its scope, and gives both its needs without injuring the other. Thus, democracy, which caters to the individual, yet supports all, is not an easy thing to control. The best term I see, which describes this, is the term: “responsible freedom”. It makes us realize that in implementing a true democracy, we must be mindful that the freedom of the individual (its prejudices), and the freedom of society (the mores that allow all to live together harmoniously) are often at odds with each other. But a democracy deals with this, not by catering to any particular set of beliefs, but by allowing all to act responsibly to all. In this way, we give and take enough, to allow our society to advance; yet are always mindful that others may not hold the same prejudices we hold; and therefore, we give in enough, to allow them their beliefs to the limit that they do not damage or hurt others in society, with them. In this way, we can all still hold to what we believe, yet even allow those, who do not have the same prejudices, to live in harmony with us.

Our prejudices are a type of straight jacket we live in; they are beliefs, which we hold outside of reason. We all have them. But, it is also our responsibility to see that we all must live on this planet with others, who may hold prejudices slightly different than ours; not because of evil intentions or hypocritical aims, but because they grew up in different environments than we did. It is our job, especially as citizens of a democracy, to control these prejudices, by recognizing them in both ourselves and others. And, it is our responsibility, to realizes that the freedoms we express can hurt others, unless we keep these prejudices within the bounds that give all the same amount of freedom.

Prejudices are a type of straightjacket. Yet, society is the flexibility to overcome those prejudices by working together for the benefit of all. The three basic institutions of society, which, at the same time both underlie and undermine our democratic society, are: religion (I include here even atheism and agnosticism, as types of religion), government and the economy. These three societal institutions were not made to divide us, but to unite us. Yet, today (and throughout history) they are causing all the turmoil this world is seeing, because we have invested them with our prejudices. The results are societies that cannot take care of, or even care about their own peoples; and peoples, who cannot live in harmony among themselves. In every case, the unity they were suppose to create, has become division, based on the prejudices these institutions have created.

Religion:

Religions have created clubs, around prejudices that God is suppose to hold. In doing this, they divide people from others; and remove the flexibility people need to live together in harmony. Yet, they proclaim this as love! Their love causes division, yet they cannot see that anything that causes division can never be considered love. They are so blinded by their prejudices that they have actually redefined love to suit them!

Government:

Of, by and for the people, means ALL the people! Even George Washington, under whose leadership this democracy was formed, saw the tremendous harm that parties, politics and political ideology (prejudice) was doing to this newly founded country. Yet, parties have grown and thrived here, causing more and more division and apathy – to the point that that “silent majority” that express their disgust with this politics, is most of us today. We are one people, each with our own prejudices; but today's political establishment has divided us so irreparably that we see nothing the same as our fellow citizens do. The ALL that democratic government has today become, is instead the FEW, and their prejudices, governing all the rest. And, that takes us to that final institution that divides us: the economy!

The Economy:

All (National) economies were created to support societies. They are, by their very definition6, the method to allow society to exist (or survive). But, today, “free enterprise” has become a type of ideology (Capitalism) of the individual expressing his or her prejudices. It has connected itself so intimately with government that the two now share this same ideology, to the point that government supports it more vehemently than it does its own peoples. This corruption of government, by the economy, has led to the great disparity that the peoples of the world now show. It has created both Master and slave classes, within states where no classes were supposed to exist. It has become the global force through which the prejudices of the FEW are undermining the prejudices of the majority. Thus economic prejudices have divided the world into two segments, consisting of a small rich segment (or aristocracy), and an enormously large poor segment, that are, essentially, slaves to the rich segment.

In no uncertain terms, it is prejudices, of one kind or another, that presently rule this world. They have invested themselves in all the institutions of society that were supposed to exist without prejudice of any kind, and make society one whole, through which all its people could prosper. But, the reverse has occurred; and our most treasured institutions have brought us at odds with each other. They have gone so far that they have even created a form of love that separates, instead of uniting the peoples of the world.

The God of prejudice now rules this world that was created to be one, without him! We have fallen to the very things we deny we even have – prejudices!

The answer to all of this is to acknowledge these prejudices, and see that the only way around them is to acknowledge the primary paradox, they create: institutions that work against society, instead of for it. So, instead, we must create institutions that accomplish the tasks these institutions were created to achieve: the survival of the ALL our societies represent.

We must stop asking the “whys” that prejudices keep asking us, in order to keep us from thinking; and, finally, start asking the “hows” the ALL of society demands; for it is that ALL that is democracy; the very thing, prejudices can never be!




FOOTNOTES

To return to note's origin click the footnote number at left



1 One of the definitions of “prejudice” is: “A judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without thoughtful examination of the pertinent facts, issues or arguments; especially an unfavorable or irrational opinion.” This definition taken from: The Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary; The Reader's Digest Association; Pleasantville, N.Y.; 1966.



2 Prejudice actually is belief. That is why religions are the chief ways of voicing prejudice today.



3 It is said that the Pope, on his visit to the USA, in Philadelphia, today, made the remark that: "Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right,". Thus he believes that government workers have a right to refuse to abide by some laws, such as issuing marriage licenses to gays (the Kim Davis issue). See the following: “Govt workers have right to refuse gay marriage licenses -pope”, by Philip Pullella; Reuters; Monday, September 28, 2015.

I think that maybe such officials should also not apply for jobs that allow them to serve all, similarly; if they hold beliefs that cut them off from that ALL, they take an oath to serve. If their beliefs conflict with the rights of the people they serve, then they should not be in the job of serving those people. Government was created for all the citizens of that state it serves, not just the group that that official believes in. The Pope seems to forget that God is suppose to represent all the people of this planet. That is what all religions also conveniently seem to forget today! When religions became groups, they made God into the prejudices they hold, and cut Him off from everyone else outside the group.

Further NOTE Added 10/05/2015:
It is now about a week after I originally wrote this essay, and nobody still seems to know what the Pope's position on the Kim Davis issue (mentioned above) really is!

But, for me, the real issue is why should anyone really even care! I mean, if God really does make rules for mankind, then why does he not tell each of us directly, as the New Covenant of the Bible says he would? And does a God, really make rules that change? Can't God make up His mind what the rules are, once and for all? Obviously, at least to me, it isn't God making the rules, but just plain men – and, it seems they can't even make up their minds what those rules are! If this is God at work, then somewhere along the way, that perfection the Catholic Church attributes to God is a real farce!

The real deal is, that like all religions today, men, not God, are making the rules; and doing a damn poor job of it, at that. Even further, the pity of it all is, that there are still so many people believing that this is God at work! Can people really be that gullible? I guess people's prejudices are so onerous to them today that they really do need some kind of "God-like figure" to blame them on!



4 Some "smart" person will probably interject here, as an answer to that question above (Can we create a group without creating prejudices?): the group known as the human race! True; but that group is not really a real group, with prejudices, but a construct, we have created to iron out all the differences between us. Anyway, if he or she somehow found a way to ask those other groups around us, like the group of dogs or cats or cattle, what they think, I'm sure the prejudices in our group, the human race, would show up very pointedly, especially, if they were asked that, while we were eating a steak dinner!



5 Freud was also the member of a group, at the time he brought forth his theory of Psychoanalysis. This group of doctors, who were rebels to the established thoughts on mental health, at that time, were themselves held in contempt by the medical establishment of that time. Here again, we see prejudice forming a hold on society and its workings through the group.

Today, we see Psychoanalysis as a theory that helps us better understand a subject which we can really never know for sure. Its approach has been vindicated in many clinical cases throughout the course of its existence; but in many cases it does not work at all. It only goes to show that the human mind is something so vast that we can merely begin to understand it with our theories of it. Freud's work is still a tremendous benefit to all; if only, in that it gives us a workable model, upon which to approach the human mind.



6 The "economy" is defined as: “The practical administration of the material resources of a country, community or establishment...”. This definition taken from: The Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary; The Reader's Digest Association; Pleasantville, N.Y.; 1966.







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Originally Published:

September 28, 2015


Revised:

October 5, 2015