“To a vast majority of mankind nothing is more agreeable than to escape the need for mental exertion…To most people nothing is more troublesome than the effort of thinking.” James Bryce.
Each and every one of us likes to believe in the objectivity & individuality of our thinking. That’s human nature. Yet, whether we realize it or not, every one of us is guilty of harboring some kind of unfounded prejudice, which manifests itself in a wide spectrum of ways, coloring our lives from personal, professional, to political and social levels. This cloaked bias directs us to generalize, stereotype & worst, to be unfairly judgmental of others. Since most people are less inclined to self-examination or introspection, we subconsciously put aside our own thinking and accept the thinking of others. This is compounded further by our emotions that color our thinking. Moreover, the pressure to conform to already established popular or “in” views also contributes to our borrowed thinking.
We are afraid to laugh alone & uncomfortable to cry alone. This is why TV sitcoms come with laugh tracks & “awww” and successfully manipulate our intellectual and emotional responses. All around us, at all times, we are all judging and stereotyping each other.
Generalization from one’s limited personal experience is most rampant in our society.
* An taxi driver ignores a potential passenger because he believes that she will haggle too much for the fare, based on her dressing & appearance.
* A store salesman tries to take liberty with a decent woman customer because he believes all women, of certain nationalities, belong to ignoble professions.
* An Emirati family enters a Dhs-10 store & someone utters in surprise: “What are they doing here. Aren’t they all supposed to be filthy rich?”
* How cruelly judgment is passed on all working mothers as being “selfish” or “neglectful of home & kids”.
* Just as casually, the stay-at-home-moms are stereotyped as “lazy”, “incompetent to hold professional jobs” & “leading a work-free cushy life”.
* Suddenly, all bachelors of the city are labeled & treated as “dirty” & “immoral”, thereby exempting us from our civil duty to treat everyone humanely.
* All veiled women are seen as either oppressed by their faith, subjugated by men or brainwashed fanatics.
* A blue-collar man justifies his contempt for successful & wealthy people by confidently alluding that they must have stepped on others or played unfair to reach the top.
* The sincerity and intention of a woman converting to Islam is questioned and doubted by asking her if she has a Muslim boyfriend or husband.
* Any and all road accidents are, without doubt or investigation, the fault of the driver if he happens to be a male between 18-25yrs.
* A devoted mother by the bedside of a sick child is repeatedly insulted by apparent accolades like, “Wow, can’t believe you are a step-mother to this child.”
* A May-September bi-racial couple out on the street is enough to invite knowing glances & presumptuous analysis like, “One did it for money & security & the other, for a boost to a mid-life ego!”
* A crime case is reported in the papers & our age-old prejudices against certain race, religion, profession & relations is enough to convict someone in our mind even before the investigation is complete & judgment is passed.
Each time we give into generalization or stand on judgment over others, we are not only being unfair to them but are also not doing justice to our own intellect.
Note: Some of the above statements are very region-specific thus, may not be understood by people unfimiliar with the U.A.E. society.