Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Prejudice’ Category

The US, of all countries on earth, the US especially loves to be the standard of individuality.  The individual, not the group, not the whole, the individual is important.  The individual choice is king.  The “Army of One” ideology.  40 acres and a mule to everyone and you rough it out on your own.

And yet in reality, beyond whatever ideology we espouse, we are – as are most humans by nature – sheep.  In all the ways that really count.

We want the choice between Coke and Pepsi, we want the choice of 500 channels on the TV, and we want the choice in which cereal we put in our shipping carts.

And yet for all the choices, for all the individuality we desire, we choose based on what we think everyone else is doing.

4 out of 5 doctors tell us what we should do based on the majority opinion.  Most moms agree that they would do what most moms would do.  After all, the majority rules in a democracy, right?  So the majority must be right, and we want to be right, so we’ll go with the majority.

We don’t want individuality.  We want conformity.  In fact, we demand conformity around us.  We don’t want the person with the pink spiked hair to express their individuality, we want to tone them down into what we have deemed to be normalcy.  We don’t want to be the one who speaks out when everyone else seems to be agreeing.  We don’t want to be the one who stands out in a crowd.  We want to blend in, to go on with our lives, to be unremarkable.

We don’t want individuality, we want invisibility.

We will let evil happen so long as it looks like everyone else is letting evil happen.  Because we don’t want to be singled out.

But when we see someone step forward in dissent, we are more likely to be emboldened to dissent ourselves.

We don’t want to be individuals.  We want to be part of a group, and we’ll find the group that best fits what we want to be to become part of, but we won’t be a group of one if no group really fits us.

We won’t vote for the candidate who truly expresses our ideals, we’ll vote for the candidate we think is most likely to win.

We don’t want to be individuals!  We want to be part of a winning team.

We don’t want to rock the boat.  We WOULD jump off that bridge if all of our friends were doing it, because if they were *all* doing it… they must have a good reason!  Surely someone thought this through, and well, if they decided that was the best course of action, and if ALL of them decided it, who are we to dissent?  Who are we to go against the flow?  We don’t want to think, we want to follow.

We want to assume everyone else has put in the proper amount of thought and process into their decision making and come up with the best solution, and we’re just going to capitalize on their effort.

That’s why commercials show people “just like you” who have made this choice for you so you don’t have to think about it, they already did that.  All you have to do is buy this product and you can have whatever it is this person “just like you” has.

We don’t want to be the whistle blower.  In fact, we don’t even want other people to be whistle blowers.  We HATE whistle blowers!  We hate individuals.  We hate non-conformity.  We hate difference.

We have been conditioned to conform as part of our human nature.  In fact, we have been conditioned to believe that non-conformity not only is bad, but is useless.  We believe that *I* can’t make a difference.  *I* can’t change things.  *I* can’t help.  *My* vote doesn’t count.  *My* choices don’t affect anyone else.

We *fear* difference.  We *fear* change.  We *fear* standing out.  We *fear* being away from the heard.  Stay in the heard, blend in, be the group: you’re safe.  Be the stand-out, be the straggler, be the individual: be dinner.  We embrace conformity unless we think that through individual identity we can achieve greater power.  And it’s this belief that we can have power that overcomes our fear of being individuals.  But we don’t really let go of the group, we merely become leaders of that group, we gain power to control and direct the group.  We *become* what others need to conform to, and then we enforce that conformity on the group.

*I* did this.  *I* made this happen.  *I* deserve recognition for greatness.  *I* deserve to be given power for my accomplishment.   Therefore, you must follow me.

We want to act as a heard for safety, but we want to be recognized as an individual when that recognition brings us greater benefit than anonymity would.  We want to get the raise, we want to get the prize, we want to get the award, we want to achieve the fame, when these things come with positive benefits to us.

We want to act as a heard when it comes to blame, or better yet, treat others as the heard on which to be blamed, but act as an individual when it comes to our benefit or to avoid blame.  *We* failed to achieve our goals, *you* let down the customer, *I* did everything I could.

But even if we crave individual power, individual recognition, we instinctively know that anonymity in the group can give us greater power than individual recognition.  We instinctively recognize the power that anonymity grants us.  From wearing white hoods to hiding behind a keyboard, we allow the group to dictate our actions, our anonymity to become our immunity.  In order to express our power, we prey on the powerless.  The individual.  The stand-out.  The straggler.

We become that which we feared.  We become the predator.  We riot, we lynch, we laugh at the racist joke, all to conform to the group, all to gain power through group action, to conform to group-think.  We don’t want to be the one who stands up and says this is wrong.  We don’t want to be the one who stands in front of the tank.  We don’t want to be the one who goes to the press.

We don’t want to be individuals.  Yet we keep perpetuating the lie, the myth, that we are.  We are, in some ways, worse than cultures who work for the benefit of the group at the expense of the individual.  We will work with the group that brings the greatest individual benefit for ourselves, and sacrifice both the good of the group and other individuals to achieve it.  And especially, we want to ensure the “other group” doesn’t take the power from our group.

If you want to be an individual, don’t think that your choice of car models or soft drink or how you cook your eggs is somehow relevant to your individuality.  It’s your social choices, your choice of “groups”, your choice to remain silent, your choice to speak, your choice to act, your choice to stand-by that will make you a human being or a pack animal.

Which one are you going to be today?  Which one will you be tomorrow?  Which one will you be every time a chance to make a choice is presented?  Which “group” are you going to choose to belong to, and why?

Read Full Post »

A response to this post, because No, I am not content to silently disagree: no-homosexuality-is-not-like-left-handedness  I’ll never disable comments, because I welcome differing points of view.  How on earth can we ever grow living in a bubble to ourselves?

The above indicates an opinion that homosexuality is wrong because there is no chance of pregnancy.  I will refute one thing, homosexuals are actually just as capable of producing children, just not with others of the same gender.  However, if the topic of acceptable sex is whether or not children are produced…

So to be barren or post-menopausal is similarly to have no right whatsoever to engage in sexual intercourse since a baby can never be the result.  Just making sure I’m clear on sex and it’s purpose, here.  No children = no sex.  No matter the reason, because sex without children is selfish and wrong and clearly a mental disorder.

Oh, you must similarly abhor birth control of any kind, because that allows for sex without the possibility of procreation.  And of course surgically having your tubes tide or cut (male or female) is akin to choosing to be homosexual because you’re now creating a situation where you are having sex without the possibility of procreation, and should be labeled as having voluntarily adopted a mental disorder.

Every time I have sex with my theoretical future husband, I had damn well sure better be prepared to get pregnant and under no circumstances – no matter how many children we’ve already had or what our financial situation – should I attempt in any way to prevent the possibility of again becoming pregnant, or else I’d just better clamp my legs together and say, “Not tonight, honey, we can’t afford it!”

Because before these pesky homosexuals came along, no heterosexual couple ever dreamed of having sex without having a child.  Yes, it was those homosexuals who corrupted us “straighties” into thinking birth control was ever an acceptable choice.

Though I must wonder, if the only function of sex was to have a child, then why would women who are “legitimately raped” have bodies that could have a way to “shut all that down” and prevent pregnancy?

Clearly there is something *wrong* with women who are raped if they can prevent their own pregnancies.  Right?  Just making sure I understand the whole line of thinking here.  Raped women had damn well better be sure to have that child so it isn’t confused with being selfish or having a mental disorder!

Non-sarcastically now: Sex can create children, yes.  Sex also nurtures intimacy, trust, compassion, mental well-being, stress-reduction, and a host of other things that are beneficial to long-lasting relationships.  Having sex for pleasure is as much about your *partner’s* pleasure as your own, while for some, having children can be an extremely selfish thing to do.

To assume that sex for pleasure always equals selfishness and sex for children is always some selfless higher calling is just plain ignorance at it’s … best? worst?

It’s disturbing that this isn’t obvious to more people.

Really, I don’t think it’s Authority you have a problem with, Matthew.

Read Full Post »

This ongoing discussion on the merits of herbal/natural medicines got me very animated as I’ve had similar discussions in the past, with varying levels of rhetoric and vile.  I wonder if those who say that natural medicines are utterly useless and have never been proven effective even realize that many of our “modern, conventional” medicines are actually based off natural cures used for centuries and known to be effective.

Aspirin is synthesized from white willow bark, and even today I use white willow bark to ease mild headaches.

Honey has been proven to be effective for healing and preventing infection in wounds.  It isn’t any faster than something like Neosporin, in fact it was a little slower, but it was just as effective.

My sister’s dentist told her to pack a sore tooth with cloves until she could get in to have it looked at, because of it’s numbing properties.

Everyone knows about drinking cranberry juice to help a common urinary tract infection.  Why pay extra for a trip to the doc when you can just chug that down for a while and be fine?

Really, our ancestors were smart.  If they were as stupid as they’re often made out to be, they wouldn’t have lived long enough for us to be here, so they were smart, they were just as intelligent as we are and probably more wise because they had to be.  They knew that all these things around them had, from generation to generation, worked in a certain way.  Ancient Egyptians performed brain surgery.  In the 5th century BC, cataract eye surgery was being performed in India.

So we had advanced surgeries and functional medicines long before the advent of the modern age.  So it isn’t that these natural medicines don’t work – it’s that they don’t always work the way we *want* them to.

It seems there are three major issues with natural medicines once you get past the simple ignorance of history.

One is it’s nearly impossible to determine potency of naturally occurring medicines because the plant itself will vary from place to place, season to season, time of day, and even how old it is.  So yes, it can be difficult to determine or prescribe a dose when the dose may vary widely.  Even today, though, the dose of a medicine is often dependent upon many factors of the patient, body weight, age, gender, and just personal chemistry.  Dosages often have to be adjusted over time to get what works for each person.

Second is that yes, historically, our ancestors did get it wrong sometimes.  There are a lot of folk remedies that – more than not helping – may actually do more harm, and sometimes could kill you outright, but then we do that a lot, too.  We determine later that a medicine is ineffective, or that the side-effects outweigh the benefits, and some medicines, therapies, or cures that have been advanced in modern times are later retracted or revised because of new knowledge, so just because something falls under the heading of ‘modern’ or ‘conventional’ medicine doesn’t make it the best treatment.

And third is a general misunderstanding of how natural medicines are often meant to work in the first place.  We want fast, we want effective, and we want proven.  And even today it seems we can get two out of the three at best.  We can get proven and effective, but it takes time.  We can get fast and effective “experimental” drugs, and we can get fast, proven drugs that work ‘sometimes’, and all of them with side effects that make me think that the original problem might be preferable!  I’ve actually had a doctor prescribe me pain pills that made me so sick I decided the pain was better than the sickness the pills caused!

Today we have this picture of how medicine works: you go to a doctor, you get a pill, you take this pill for X number of days, and you’re better.  The only role the doctor plays in this is to write you the prescription to get the pill.  And it seems even more and more, those “X” number of days means “for the rest of your life.”

Natural medicines often work almost entirely differently.  You go to a doctor, and they prescribe you a medicine, but rather than that being the end of their role, they will be involved in the entire process, ensuring that the medicine is working, and working as expected.  They may increase or decrease the dose depending on how you respond.  They may add another complementary medicine to help.  They can ensure that if you begin to have side effects that they are caught quickly.  They aren’t just the Pill Despenser ™ that many people have come to expect.

And you know what?  This is exactly how modern medicine often works as well!  So I don’t know why some people continue to knock natural medicines when all in all they aren’t too different in approach or effectiveness than modern.

Years ago when I was in therapy for post traumatic stress and at the time moderate depression, my therapist suggested St. John’s Wort tea.  It didn’t “cure” me, but it helped.  That was the point.  I wasn’t supposed to drink a cup of tea and magically feel better.  It was supposed to be a temporary stabilizer for my moods, and that in combination with plain old *walking* which is again proven to improve mood.

When I had a certain type of glandular infection, my doctor gave me options.  she said the conventional approach was to give direct injections of antibiotics to the area (this type of infection did not respond to oral antibiotics.)  She also said that could be combined with lancing the area and letting the glands drain.

Neither of these options sounded terribly inviting.  First, I’m terrified of needles, and second, lancing basically means *cutting it open and letting it drain* so yeah, no.

The natural remedy was to go to the local co-operative, buy some goldenseal powder, make a paste, and apply it to the skin with a warm compress.  The goldenseal contains natural antibiotic qualities and would be absorbed into the skin to help fight the infection.

I decided that was the way I was going.  The very first application relieved the pain.  It took a few weeks to fully get rid of the infection, but it did work.

Okay, it took longer than either of the conventional remedies would have.  But you know what?  Now when I get that same kind of infection again, I don’t have to necessarily go back to the doctor and pay for another examination, pay for another round of antibiotic shots.  I go back to the co-op and buy more goldenseal.  (actually, I keep it stocked in my house now.)  I also keep a tincture of it for when I have sore throats, it takes the pain away instantly and lasts for a few hours, but it does taste utterly vile (so I guess that proves it’s medicine?)

Now wait a second, I hear you say.  You just contradicted yourself!  You cut the doctor out of the process.

Yes, I did.  Because once the first round was over, once I had a mind of what was normal, what to expect, then I can reasonably determine that I have the same infection, and treat it the same way.  Barring any complications that arise, I don’t necessarily have to go back to the doctor for the same thing again.

Diagnose myself?  Treat myself?  Who do I think I am? I didn’t take medicine in college, I’m not qualified to act as a doctor, the arrogance!

But just watch TV for a few hours and count the number of drug commercials that are being marketed directly to you, the consumer, in the earnest hope that you will go to your doctor and say “Give me this!”  You diagnose yourself, and want to treat yourself, but that pesky need for the doctor to prescribe it gets in the way.

So really, the only thing that keeps modern people from using modern medicines the same way we use natural medicines is the stop-gate of needing a prescription.  So the argument of self-diagnosis and self-treatment quickly becomes a non-issue.  The only thing to watch out for is when the treatment doesn’t work or complications arise, you do have to go back to the doctor.  But you have to do that with conventional medicines, too, so it really isn’t an argument for or against either one.  It’s something they have in common!

Really, when it comes down to it, natural medicines are just like conventional: it’s best used under a doctor’s care, but even so there are plenty of over-the-counter that can be used more or less at will.  The dosage often needs adjustment.  They aren’t always effective, or as effective as we’d like, and sometimes they just taste terrible.

Really, the two major differences between natural medicine and conventional medicine?

One: drug companies can’t patent a naturally occurring plant.  They can only patent a specific kind of extraction or synthetic equivalent, so modern medicine pushes profits.  Use the “purple pill” instead of a natural equivalent so the patent holders can get their exorbitant kickback.

Two: without the need for a prescription, it can be easier to abuse or misused natural medicines, but given the ease at which convention is abused, it’s hardly a difference worth noting.  Mostly it just requires the same care as any other drug.

And before anyone says I’m against modern medicine, re-read everything I’ve just written and tell me where I said that.

Anyway, that’s my $2.50.

Read Full Post »

To be fair, that last one – Grace Kelly @ADobTrack – does have a point.

After all, I’m highly upset that SHE is commenting on who sings the United States National Anthem. Clearly from Europe…

*facepalm*

Seriously, people? Are we really still doing this?

No More Race

I swear I think some people need to be required to get a license to use the Internet. Following the Internet ugliness over the Cheerios commercial that dared show a mixed family, the Internet racists went crazy when a Latino kid, an Hispanic-American, sang the national anthem at the 3rd game of the NBA Finals.

Racist Tweets

And there is plenty more where that came from as you can see here.

But the kid and his family responded with class to the whole thing, pointing out that he IS an American, from San Antonio actually. And kudos to the Spurs for bringing him back last night to stick it to those idiots by having him sing the anthem all over again. Only thing better would have been if he also held up a box of Cheerios at the end.

View original post

Read Full Post »

Because it seems like a lot of people still don’t understand the word, I’d like to explain.

 

Gay is *not*:

Stupid, lame, undesirable, effeminate, butch, less than, harmful, something to be feared, a choice, an insult, a burn, a political stance, a religious stance, flamboyance, a style of speech, a manner of walking, hugging your best friend, showing emotion, touching the same gender, experimenting with the same gender, playing with traditionally ‘other’ gendered toys, dressing in traditionally ‘other’ gendered clothing, having a body that does not conform to a socially defined sex, having a mind that does not conform to your biological socially defined sex.

 

Gay does *not equal*:

Child molester, everyone after a few drinks, gender, sex, harassment, transgendered, transvestite, rape.

 

Gay means:

A sexual orientation, attraction to the same gender.

 

Things that can’t be gay:

Music, movies, tv shows, commercials, haircuts, clothes, expressions, school, tests, work, things you don’t like, things you don’t agree with, things, situations (unless there is actual, complicit, desired same-gender activity occurring).

 

Things that can be gay:

People who are attracted to the same gender, situations where same-gender attraction stuff is going on.  Gay pride parades are, unquestionably, gay.  🙂

 

Read Full Post »

I’m going to list some attributes, and I want you to take a few moments and really consider not just each attribute, but what association  you make with that word, the other thoughts, concepts, and ideas that spring to mind when you read it:

Female

Blonde

Glasses

Tattooed

Engineer

Irish

Traveler

Take a moment to think of what each attribute “tells” you about the person who has it.

We tend to, conscious or not, associate certain *values* to physical attributes, ethnic origin, or even career choices.  Some are fairly neutral in nature, others can be positive, but unfortunately, many are negative.

But whether the association is positive, negative, or even neutral, the problem is making the association in the first place can hinder your brain’s ability to see and accept information that contradicts that association.

The image of the ‘Drunken Irish’ can be so ingrained in a person that even if they met an Irishman or woman who had never touched alcohol in their lives, they may still find themselves suspicious of their sobriety or trustworthiness.

The image of a ‘Dumb Blonde’ can heighten your notice of everything a blond girl does wrong, while overlooking what they do right, even seeing them as less intelligent than another despite actual results.

The image of an “Irrational Woman” may mean you dismiss even entirely rational and justified anger or frustration on the part of a woman because it’s easier to make it her problem rather than see your (or someone else’s) contribution to the reaction.

Stereotypes originate through the part of the brain that really, really loves to categorize the world in order to make it both make sense, and to develop processes for dealing with new situations.  Familiar can become invisible, new can be frightening, common can become confused for normal*, and so on.

The way to counter the negative effects of stereotyping isn’t to suddenly decide “Well, I just won’t do that!”  To some degree, it isn’t controllable.  The brain can make these associations before you’ve even realized you’ve done it.  What’s important is to recognize these unconscious and automatic associations and actively allow new information to correct them.

Stereotypes reduce people to categories rather than individuals, and no one fits neatly into every category you may have.

For example, while blonde may generally be associated with stupid, glasses are often associated with being smart, and yet neither hair pigmentation nor impaired eyesight are linked with intelligence in any way.   So recognizing the unconscious attempt to categorize one attribute into a false association can help you not limit another person through your own stereotypes.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself that’s all well and good for some things, but other stereotypes are justified.  Well, it’s more likely to say that some stereotypes have been justified through selective observation.

If you associate red hair with a temper, and not brown hair, any show of anger from a red head you’ll attribute to the hair (i.e., they don’t really have a reason to be angry, they just have a hot temper because they’re a red head!), whereas any show of anger from a brown haired person you may view very differently (surely they must have a good reason for being that angry.)

So the same behavior will be filtered through a different lens of observation, one being used to justify a continuation of a stereotype, whereas the other is simply allowed to be what it is without having to find further reason for it.

Worse, a person may actively goad a person to a certain reaction as an excuse to then justify a stereotype.  Treat a person poorly enough, they’ll finally fight back, and thus you have neatly “proven” your original belief that the person is either violent or difficult to work with or whatever, when really you are the one who provoked a reaction that may be very natural across the board, not just belonging to one ‘group’.

So it isn’t enough to insist that whatever stereotype or prejudice you hold is justified through example, because your own ability to observe is colored by your prejudice in the first place.

Let’s say you had been raised with a negative view of piano players.  Perhaps your mother ran off with a piano player when you were young and so growing up all you heard was negative things about them.  You now believe that all piano players are either unfaithful, or will cause unfaithfulness in others, that they aren’t trustworthy or honest.

Now it wouldn’t matter how many piano players you had met since then that were faithful, honest and trustworthy, the second one person (who just happened to play the piano) did anything the slightest bit questionable, you would quickly insist that it’s because that person is a piano player! You knew they were all rotten, and here’s proof!

Now, does anyone really think that all piano players, everywhere in the entire world, are the same?  That their values, their beliefs, their customs, their actions, and how they treat others would somehow all be a mirror reflection of the one attribute of playing the piano?

No, of course not, that’s ridiculous.  And yet people do that all the time, only with much more subtle and insidious associations.  All Mexicans are here illegally and can’t speak English.  All blacks live in the ghetto and are in gangs.  All Asians are good at science and math.  All Polish people are stupid.  All Jews are greedy.  All Muslims are terrorists.

This is the exact same kind of thing, saying that one shared attribute must enforce many shared attributes.  But the logic is just as ridiculous here as it is with the piano player.  Perhaps you’ve only met one black person in your entire life, and they were in a gang.  Do you really think that must mean every black person is in a gang?? Does skin color somehow trump a person’s individuality?  What about national origin, are Poles really, as a whole people, that much less intelligent than anyone else?  Or Asians that much smarter?  Do you really know that every single Muslim on the planet has anything at all in common besides their religion?

What happens when you get crossed stereotypes that contradict one another?  A Polish Nuclear Physicist?  A Black President?

By insisting on your stereotypes and prejudices, you are not just closing your eyes to contradictory evidence, you are limiting other people to your narrow views of who and what they must be.

If you were a 49ers fan, would you want someone to make a whole host of assumptions about you based solely on your devotion to a sports team?  Do you share every attribute with every other 49ers fan?  Is there something in your genetic make-up that forced you to be a 49ers fan?  What if based on some other attribute of yours, someone refused to believe you were a 49ers fan?  Wouldn’t that be annoying?

We must always allow people to be both individuals and to contradict our preconceived notions about them, and the more we’re willing to recognize what those preconceptions are and allow them to be challenged, the more we can truly understand and connect with people around us.

Now, that isn’t to say that you can’t make any assumptions at all about a person.  If I’m being introduced to a Muslim, it might be a good idea to ask if he can shake my hand before extending it, and avoid a possibly awkward situation.  There are some cultural practices that you can learn about, and ask about, but don’t necessarily assume they *must* practice it, or insist they do if they say they don’t.

Point is, as in all things, the more open you allow your mind to be, the better off it is for everyone.  Don’t be so quick to make judgements about someone based solely on their occupation, skin or hair color, religion, ethnic background, culture, gender, or anything else.   Don’t use differences as points to mock or belittle, and don’t argue with what a person says about themselves: let them tell you who they are, don’t just think you can know them, as they also can’t know you.

When we let people be individuals, we experience the full and beautiful spectrum that is humanity.

*common vs. normal: they may seem the same, until you look at the opposites.  Common is wide-spread, uncommon is limited or rare.  But normal is seen as a positive attribute, whereas abnormal is seen as inherently negative.   Being left-handed isn’t common, but it isn’t abnormal.  Just like being gay may not be common, but it isn’t abnormal, either.  It’s okay to assume a “common” because… well… it’s common.  But don’t let uncommon become associated with abnormal, wrong, dangerous, frightening, or other negative connotations.  Let uncommon just be more rare.  (remember: coal is common, diamonds are rare 🙂 )

Read Full Post »