Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Preference or Prejudice??

I heard someone say a profound thing the other day. "Everyone is prejudiced, but not everyone is a racist." I hope you caught the significance of that statement. We all have our ideas about the way people behave and live. There are some things that I prefer more than others. It does not necessarily follow that my prejudices will cause me to behave in a racist manner.

For example, if I am in a group of people where conversation is required, I usually tend to gravitate to women. I am more comfortable talking to women than I am to men. Conversation is easier with women. I have more in common with women than men (as a general rule). This does not mean that I do not like men, or that I cannot or will not talk to men. In fact, some of my best friends are men. I talk to them a lot. But when given the choice, I prefer to talk to women that I do not know rather than men I do not know. I have a prejudice toward men.

It would be helpful, I believe, to work on some definitions. These are my definitions and I hope that my intentions will become clear.

  • Prejudice- An opinion, usually negative, about a person or subject based on no evidence or experience.
  • Preference- To rank a person or group above another. This is often the consequence of a prejudice.
  • Bigotry- A person who is fanatically committed to his own ideology and opposed to any that differs.
  • Racism- The practice of being opposed to others and their beliefs based only on their ethnic heritage.

It is important that all humans, and especially those who follow Jesus, never allow their prejudices and preferences to become grounds for bigotry and racism. Recognize where you are prejudiced. Learn to see your preferences without letting them consume you and rule your life. Make allowances to ensure that you never become a bigot or racist.

One final thought: There are many times when ignorance becomes an obstacle to peaceful interaction among people. I will write more about this in a later post, but for now hear this warning: Ignorance about what offends someone else is no excuse. It is not acceptable to offend others with your ignorance. To the one offended it still seems like racism. It is racism.

Educate yourself. Learn where your prejudices are. Treat all others fairly and without preference.

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