When Ignorance Isn’t Bliss: Discrimination & Prejudice in the Modern World
With Bruce Jenner’s official transgender announcement a few weeks ago during his interview with Diane Sawyer, there’s been a lot of social media talk for or against him. There has also been a lot of build up for or against certain Presidential candidates as we move toward another the 2016 Election. Then, there’s the never-ending chatterings for or against homosexuality, legalizing marijuana, gun control…the list goes on and on.
All of this has gotten me thinking…
Why is there so much judgement and disgust for the side that isn’t your own?
Why is there so much misunderstanding, hate, and even violence against the people who are the “opposite” of you?
The fact that everyone has their own opinion isn’t new.
The fact that there are opposing sides to every argument isn’t new.
The fact that there are varying degrees of political affiliation, from conservative to liberal, isn’t new.
The fact that there are people of varying colors, nationalities, and religions certainly isn’t new.
The fact that there are all kinds of different sexual orientations (7, according to this article) definitely isn’t new (we just didn’t always have the terms to define them).
The fact that there has always been racism, sexism, ageism, and every other type of discrimination and prejudice you can think of also isn’t new. We’ve judged each other since the dawn of time, so how is it possible that we still can’t understand how to accept each other for who we truly are?
I keep circling back to the same answer: ignorance. Ignorance has just about the most simple definition of most any word: “lack of knowledge or information.”
Ignorance is not being educated.
In one of its most basic forms, ignorance is not having the proper education to make informed decisions. Those who are uneducated will typically circle back to what they were told growing up by parents or guardians and base their own thoughts on these lessons growing up.
Unfortunately, many members of the older generations tend to be uneducated in matters of the modern world’s understanding of sexuality, race, and religion. (That’s, of course, a generalization and does not cover all members of older generations.)
Is it their fault? I’m not here to decide that; as it’s usually a case-by-case basis.
Ignorance is not having a personal connection.
An anti-gay mother changes her tune when her only son comes out of the closet in high school. Suddenly, there’s someone she knows and loves who is gay, so suddenly it can’t be that wrong.
White supremacist friends of a white couple who adopted an African American daughter may suddenly understand that love is colorblind.
The grandfather of a transgender woman (meaning she was originally a man) suddenly understands what transgender means because he watched his grandson grow up knowing that he was a woman the whole time.
The conservative Christian doesn’t understand liberal views until she fell in love with a liberal Buddhist.
When we have a personal connection to someone or something, it suddenly doesn’t seem as scary, as foreign. It’s important to remember that, regardless of having a personal connection, we’re all people.
Ignorance is a choice.
Denial, prejudice, discrimination, ignorance. They’re all pieces of the same disgusting puzzle. And they’re all a personal choice.
No one else can tell you how to feel or how to act…only you can.
So it starts with each of us to make the right choices. It takes each and every one of us – individually and together – to push back against the negativity in the world and shine some much-needed light.