Dark Side

Dark Side

Posted under Guest Blogger, Living With Low Vision

Recently I looked up the real definition of prejudice as I was throwing it around like a hot potato.

So we are all clear on what I mean when I use the word prejudice here is a definition from (where else) the web dictionary.

1.An unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.  2. Any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.  3. Unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

In my writings I am asking people to see things in a different way. The opposite of what prejudice asks you to do. Since I would never ask anyone else to do what I myself am unwilling to consider I had to ask myself what prejudices I have.

I do not have a color prejudice. In fact I much more enjoy people of different cultural setting to interact with as they let me hear firsthand about a thing I will have no way of living except through vicarious means. Color has never been an issue with me and even more so now that I cannot see color it is even less of a hindrance.

I am not an education snob either that points a sharp stick at people who do not have the education that they could have. Life’s lessons are sometimes a stronger source of education than what you might learn inside the walls of a classroom.

No my prejudice came to me in a surprising way. While sitting in the car at a gas station there was a great commotion of people outside my vehicle. There were at least three car loads and they were talking loud. They were yelling banter back and forth across the three cars. They obviously knew each other and were talking about where they were all going. The prejudice came when I heard their crude and simple speech that was off-putting. Why? What do I care how they speak? Well, in my mind I had formed an opinion about a group of people that I did not even know and would never meet.  And yet it ticked me off. Why should I care? It still bothers me why it bothers me. That is a thought on a hamster wheel for sure with no way off.

The fact that we all form opinions without the benefit of getting to know someone is dangerous. I guess it is like when people see me poking along a road slowly with my cane that they must have an opinion of me. They must. Life is never neutral. But until they take the time to have a moment’s conversation with me will their ideas and opinions be validated or rejected. Since speech is the main way in which I form opinions of others. I have to be very careful that I am not attaching value based on accents. I can think of three people who I have formed an opinion about them based on their strong accents. They are all very gifted and smart but there strong accent gives them a diminished capacity in my mind.

Now I know how you all feel when you see me and my cane . A glance my way and you have put me at a disadvantage and reduce my worth based on what you have perceived about me.

This goes back to definition number 1 in the prejudice description.

If we were all honest (and we rarely are) we would have to admit that we think things about people that are not true based on our own set of values that we hold in higher esteem.

Most people’s prejudices come in the form of visual cues that force them to form conclusions on the spot. My perceptions come just as quickly but through my ear canals. I hear something and make a judgment based on that interaction. Wrong? Probably as I most likely will not have enough information to gather an intelligent opinion.

Conversely we have all been in situations where people are just stuck and afraid to render a verdict.

One time I sat on a jury and the person was guilty. The eleven other people were hesitant to pull the trigger based on what evidence they had heard that clearly pointed out the errors the young perpetrator had effected against society. They had to be talked into doing their civic duty and disentangle themselves from feeling responsible for this man’s poor life choices.

Sometimes we can sit in committee on a clearly exposed probem and still not acknowledge it for what it is.

How many times have I referred to things being in balance? What is the balance in this regard? A judgment can be made when enough information is gathered for an educated evaluation and not a hasty judgment given prematurely.

The opposite of acting too hastily is to not act at all. If not doing something out of fear and self denial means that involvement is not mandatory to help elicit change brings with it its  own problems.

A glass half full or half empty is a perfect example. How you see it and convey its meaning to others will say a lot about how your prejudices color and guide your thinking.

Let’s say for today that the glass is half full with a large pitcher of cold lemonade perched on the lip ready to fill it to the brim.

Drink up!

Blessings, Denise