Humans are the most adaptable species on the planet. With our big brains, opposable thumbs and instinct for language we have been able to explore, conquer and populate every corner of the Earth; from the driest desert and highest mountain to the Amazon basin and the cold of Siberia; we even have people living in space!
We have managed to do this because as individuals and as a society we have been able, in all these different environments, to fulfill to a greater or lesser degree our universal needs: love, shelter, food and water, to have and look after children, health, being self-determining and finding a place in society.
However, we are a complicated, contradictory species. Despite the beauty of our achievements and ability to love and generate societies and art and science, we can also be irrational and hate and unfairly judge others (and ourselves!).
If you happen to overhear other people’s conversations they are very likely to be talking about another person (“did you hear what he did?” or “then she said to me…”). We are obsessed with trying to work out where we fit into our social group; this involves judging both who is “superior” and who is “inferior” to us. The criteria for this judgment is how well we all fulfill our universal needs. For example, a “superior” person is healthy and lives in a nice house while an “inferior” person relies on others or is unhealthy. This gives rise to the division between “able” and “disabled” people. Of course, this is all relative and subjective (an “inferior” person as judged by person A is “superior” according to person B). There is no absolute standard; “disabled” does not mean incapable and “able bodied” does not mean capable in all situations.
Yet all over the world people are judged based on what they are and not who they are. For example, I was born with a particular shaped nose and with a specific distance between my eyes. These characteristics were created before my birth by my genes. However, in no way did I choose my genes or my facial features. Therefore, judging me for these things is not judging me at all because the responsibility lies nowhere; nobody consciously chose my genes or the characteristics of my body, these things just happen to be like that. This also includes things like skin colour, gender or Parkinson’s disease. Such prejudiced judgments are frankly nonsense (i.e. the equivalent of saying, “a dolphin is responsible for having flippers”) and reveals more about the prejudiced person and their fragile ego. We are all equal in that none of us chose such characteristics.
If you must judge me, judge me for the contents and not the outer shell; judge me for how I interact with the world and how I think. These reveal who I am more than the shape of my nose or whether I use a wheel chair. Prejudiced people are essentially prejudiced against themselves; they hate their own judgments rather than the person they are judging (they choose to hate).
We are capable of such genius and such ecstasies of love and care for each other. Lets not discredit ourselves with the nonsense of prejudice.
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