Over the last couple of week I have been working with two groups of people in need of rehabilitation in our society. One often regarded as dangerously selfish and greedy, the other often regarded as dangerously ideological and somewhat out of touch. I have also spent time with a variety of minority groups, some of which are regarded as morally unacceptable by others.
The reality is that all are just people – laced with fears, foibles, anxieties and brilliance like everyone else.
All of these opinions have two things in common – ignorance and fear.
We have an evolutionary predisposition to fear that which is different and unknown. It is hard to overcome the difference bit, but overcoming ignorance is simply a matter of learning – from exposure, experience and openness. Ignorance is forgivable a closed mind, less so.
My own experience of these groups and minorities is that they are warm, compassionate, caring people and just as diverse as any other group. Whenever we generalise about any group what we truly expose is our own ignorance and prejudice. All who believe this need to challenge prejudice whenever we encounter it.
We can only judge people when we have taken the time to have an open and rounded experience of them and we must never judge a group by our experience of an individual, let alone from propaganda.
I have met thoughtful, caring, generous bankers who feel uncomfortable “coming out” about their job. I have met welcoming, hospitable and honest Arabs cautiously curious about how homosexuality is acceptable in other places.
It is time to banish the “elephants” and actually get to know each other. Conflict feeds on ignorance. Authenticity is knowing who you are and being it without fear or compromise in all situations AND allowing others to do the same.
Please share your stories and examples here.
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