“Some things are white and right.
Some things are black and wrong.
There is nothing in between.”
It amazes me that so many of us
actually try to live our complex adult lives
by such ridiculous dictums.
Racism is only one form of bigotry.
It is ugly and perverse and does tremendous damage to everyone blinded by it,
but these same effects can be seen from every kind of bigotry.
Families and cultures teach bigotry against
bosses, rich people, poor people, women, men, nationalities, and gays…
and tall people, short people, fat people, beautiful people,
people who have beards or get their noses pierced or wear too much makeup…
and, mostly, people who “just don’t look right” and people who “aren’t like us.”
Bigoted people teach bigotry.
And their bigotry is against everyone!
Bigotry is an attempt to explain to ourselves
all of the hate we carry around in our hearts.
We’d rather believe we hate “them,”
than that we carry hate for “us.”
(“Us” is so much closer to “me”!).
The bigots who make the headlines by murderously acting out their hate are easy to spot.
They either loudly proclaim their bigotry or lead their lives as “quiet loners.”
The fact that they have something to hide isn’t a shock to anyone who knows them well.
They usually come from families which directly created their hatred
through severe beatings and constant belittling,
as well as through the direct teaching of bigoted beliefs.
Their hatred was built over the years.
Only their “targets” changed over time.
Of course not all bigots make headlines.
All of us are bigoted in one way or another.
Although we don’t all act out our beliefs in violent ways
we do express our lower levels of hate in subtle, everyday ways.
Let’s assume that you know you are a bigoted and you want to change.
How do you actually go about making your changes?
The first thing you need to do is admit that all that bad feeling you have had for so long is not really against the groups you target. You may know your hate started with severe beatings in childhood, or that it started when a certain person from your target group did harm to you or someone you cared about. You may not even know where you got all this hatred. All you need to know is that your comfortable “targets” are NOT what you are so angry about.
A WAY TO OVERCOME YOUR BIGOTRY
Survey Your Discomfort. Spend some time just mentally listing all the times you feel uncomfortable around other people. List the types or groups of people you feel this way around (like blacks, whites, men, women, old people, etc.).
Notice Whether Your Discomfort Relates to Types or Groups At All. If your discomfort does not relate to any particular groups, go to #3. If your discomfort does seem to relate to “groups,” notice all of the other times when you are with these same types of people but you are much more comfortable. This time list the actual names of the people who make you uncomfortable, and of those who don’t.
Notice the Behaviors You Don’t Like. Notice what the people who make you uncomfortable actually do, and what the people who make you comfortable actually do. Note actual BEHAVIORS of real people you recall.
Give Yourself Permission To Be Angry About Behaviors. At this point you will notice that your natural anger has nothing at all to do with your “trained hate” or bigotry. Your natural anger has to do with protecting yourself from mistreatment by real people! It’s healthy and self-caring to be angry when you are mistreated. Sometimes you will notice that someone isn’t actually mistreating you but you still feel uncomfortable (like when someone from a different culture stands closer to you than you are used to). You know that this behavior isn’t “mistreatment,” but it still makes you uncomfortable. You might ask the person to stop the behavior that makes you uncomfortable. You might train yourself over time to become comfortable with it. Or you might just tolerate the discomfort. But, whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to think that you are being “mistreated” when you are not! (This is a major way we reinforce our bigotry.)
Give Yourself Permission To Enjoy Being Treated Well. Since you were trained to dislike the people in your target group, you will need to give yourself permission to disobey your training before you can enjoy being with them.
Be Proud of your Selfishness! You are not overcoming your bigotry to help “them” or to make yourself into some “politically correct” person. You are doing this so your daily life will be more comfortable – as so you can stop feeding and reinfocing that hate in your heart.
- Be Proud of Caring About YOURSELF Enough To Make These Changes!