No you won’t be reading about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice today. Something closer to the heart perhaps.
A couple of friends and I were discussing prejudice the other day and one of them was shocked when I said, “Yeah, Singaporeans are all racist.” He said that he felt that way too “but the government and the pretence…,” rah rah rah…
“Well, it’s not just Singaporeans… everyone is racist,” said another friend who is from Hungary. And I agreed with him. In my world, I know many who discriminate, who are prejudice and judgemental. Rare is the equanimous human. I also hear about how locals in other countries are fearing the ‘foreign invasion.’
Discrimination, prejudice and judgements stem from fear. We learn from a young age what is good and what is bad. This in itself is a judgement. This is how it begins. The skill of analysis is necessary. But when we set the mind on an opinion, it becomes a problem. We stop learning and stop developing our wisdom.
Judging a person does not define who they are, it defines who you are.
Racist, sexist, jobist…*yawn* I have witnessed so much unbelievably closed minded behaviour that I have decided life would be much easier to just accept the reality of discrimination and move past the unpleasantries by focusing and nurturing all the other beneficial qualities people possess.
At a friend’s wedding, I met someone who is a personal trainer. We had heard about each other before from the bride, so we got to talking. I market Tahitian Noni Juice and spoke to her about it. I asked her if we could talk more after the wedding, she said ok. After the wedding, I sent her a message. She replied, “I have an ongoing prejudice about network marketing products and it’s nothing to do with their efficacy…”. And that “I don’t wish to be informed further”. But shouldn’t the efficacy of a product be the way you assess it? What was her prejudice? Why did you say yes to begin with?
It wasn’t important for me to wonder or ask her about it. I didn’t mind her bluntness at all, in fact, I was glad for it. She put herself out there and displayed her character. I appreciate honesty. It makes the decision process much easier.
Prejudice is something we all carry with us. It comes from our upbringing, education and our past experiences.
In spite of my mixed heritage, my upbringing was more Chinese than anything else. My father is a Singaporean Chinese man who comes from an affluent Chinese family. He was an impressionable young man in his early 20s, when the racial riots broke out.
When my father discovered that the boy I am dating is Malay, he told me not to bring him back to my parents’ home anymore. And he demanded that I stopped seeing him. Why? Because he is Malay. It is that simple. He has an ongoing prejudice against Malays and doesn’t care to be informed any further. Sounds familiar? In this case, emotions ran high. I was in disbelief at my father’s closed mind and everything he said. Racism was under my roof.
I discussed this incident with the boyfriend. Peace, to us, is above all else. So, respecting my father’s decision was a no brainer. I went to speak to my father and told him we would respect his wishes. The boyfriend won’t be going to the family home, but I will continue with the relationship. I became transparent about my relationship with the boyfriend. It was important that my father knew my intentions of the relationship. And that I managed his the expectations properly. Just as I respected his decision, he had to respect mine as well.
Prejudice – A preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.
It is said that our suffering stems from our attachments to what we like or don’t like. Attachments arise from fear. And prejudice is a form of attachment — an attachment to your opinion. When we see someone who is different from us, we feel threatened. Sometimes we even go into fight-flight or freeze mode, unable to open the mind to dig deeper and see things as they are.
Human beings are hard-wired for survival. But don’t we realise that we are at the top of the food chain? And we need not fear? We don’t need to fight for survival anymore — together, we can flourish and thrive. Instinctively, we know this but the mind has been brainwashed. This brainwashing has been going on for years… 1000s of years! Authoritative figures have instilled fear and doubt into our human psyche, keeping us in our comfort zones. It still happens today.
Breaking the cycle means being fearless and connecting with the heart.
I have been at the receiving end of all sorts of discrimination since I was a teenager. I promised myself then that I will not judge people. And I kept that promise. Throughout the years, I made friends with people from all strata of life. At the end of the day, I realised we are all the same. We share the same emotions, we need the same things and we are all seeking the same things.
To really embrace life and all it has to offer, we have to be fearless. Our world is all about the relationships we have. Strong, deep, meaningful connections are needed. We shouldn’t be afraid to get hurt, it is part of life. Learning to see things as they are will guide us out of our insecurities.
With globalisation happening at breakneck speed, we are exposed to all sorts. And we need to remember, we are more alike than different… We love, we hurt, we make mistakes… No one human is better than the other.
We will always judge a book by its cover. But the question is, will you open the book to discover the contents within or will you allow your past experiences, judgements and prejudices dictate your choices in learning and growing?
Want to know more about my experiences and how you can learn from them? Let’s talk… Drop me a line.