Sunday, March 15, 2009

Shades of grey

Where do we draw the line when it comes to prejudice?

We all have our own personal bias, based on our own life experiences, values and beliefs- that is unquestionable. And, while we like it- usually- when people agree with our opinions, often that is not necessary for us to maintain them. There is no real need for validation, it is just our own personal view. Though we do like it when there are others who do agree with us, if for no other reason than there is strength in numbers- which in turn can be equated to being power. Ultimately, it is power or the desire for power which (to me) fuels prejudice.

There are too many forms of prejudice to list- and it goes much deeper than skin color or religious belief. There are childless people who feel superior to couples with children, and vice versa. People comment on the houses other's live in- either with envy or derision. While both the decision to have children or the house one lives in are both personal choices, outsiders view these choices and apply their own values to these decisions- which is false, to say the least.

Of course on of the main influences that shape our values and beliefs is our environment. This is best illustrated in the oft reproduced poem "Children Learn what they Live" by Dorothy Law Nolte. Perhaps there will come a time when we simply allow one another to live.

Here is the approved abbreviated text:

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte

If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.
If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.
If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.
If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness,
They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

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