Prejudice and Hatred Cause Loss for All

It is very perplexing that by now humans have not eradicated prejudice, discrimination and hatred of “others” whom they discount and belittle just for being different. We develop stereotypical images about those who are unlike us and use it to elevate our self-regard at the expense of those whom we find to be “inferior”. Can we become more open to the gifts of others, accept their differences and get enriched by those whose race, religion, political, personal, familial, historical or cultural origins vary from ours?

It has been repeatedly documented that cooperation, help, concern and sharing between individuals, countries and peoples throughout the world have benefited both those in need and their helpers. For example, Israel has been recently attacked by terrorists who set fires to forests throughout the country. Those who lived in the former Palestine, prior to Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, prided themselves for having taken a barren land and transformed it to a state of lush wooded areas by planting trees. Young children in school saved their pennies to donate to the tree planting efforts. The desert became a lush green homeland.

As the recent tragedy of fire terrorism began, many countries offered or responded to requests for help in quelling the fires with the use of their airplanes. Friends and foes alike joined in the effort to save the Israelis and spare their trees and lives.

Not all countries can help others in every emergency. It takes human kindness, compassion and caring in addition to equipment and willingness to forget the differences in order to help those in acute need. Sharing our human commonalities is what bonds us all.

Wars, conquest of others’ lands, property or dignity is the antithesis of “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Feeling superior to others contradicts Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” This equality invalidates anyone’s right to offend or abuse another, no matter how angry, hurt, entitled or wronged one may feel.

The epitomy of prejudice and intense hatred was the foundation of a hierarchy that intensely devalued others, resulting in 11 million people being killed in the holocaust. Six million were Jews, 1.1 million children, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, disabled people and others.

Conversely, when you see volunteers going to many countries in which children are hungry, deprived of education, vaccinations, freedom and learning, you know that many compassionate hearts can feel for the less privileged and make great efforts to enhance their lives.

Reverse prejudice and hatred:

  • Affirm your beliefs about the merit of all people regardless of their fate in life.
  • Stand up to those who advocate a hierarchy of significance among people.
  • Practice being kind and helpful to others as you serve as a model of fairness, kindness and equality for all.
  • Tell the ones who do not practice fairness that you are surprised that decent people like them fail to live up to their healthy potential.

 

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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