Archive for July, 2006|Monthly archive page

Prejudice!?!?

Waves of optimism and pessimism might make a man disbelieve in time-tested principles but no matter what happens, he would never waver from his prejudiced thought process – Benjamin Graham

Prejudice – The word itself leads me to two different conclusions: One that this is the right way of looking and interpreting things and two, it is a wrong way of looking at things. Various words have originated out of this one base word of Prejudice – Feminism, Sexism, Racism, Religious intolerance etc. How do we actually define prejudice? Is it some judgement we come to by means of an experience in the past? Then, why would we call Experience as our Best teacher! Is prejudice something learnt in childhood or do we get prejudiced every day? Is manipulation by gross commercialists and politicians by way of slogans and advertisements contributing to our way of looking at things?

What does the dictionary have to say about the word ‘prejudice’? Prejudice is defined as: An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts. Simply stated, it is a preconceived judgement, in a negative fashion. Going by the definition, is it right for me to say that various religious views thrust upon me since chldhood which have held the test of time prejudiced me the way I look at the world? This particular word, usually used to accuse someone else – saying, so and so was prejudiced against me. By uttering that mere statement, aren’t you prejudicing your conclusion?

Lots of questions!! Further food for thought – People are prejudiced because they lack sufficient experience, is a common argument we hear. However my question is, how much experience do you need to satisfactorily say that his point of view is not prejudiced? If no amount of experience entitles a person to a point of view, then the word ‘objectivity’ loses its meaning and charm. Fallacious extensions of one’s own experiences will lead to a horribly colored view of the scenario. We had had innumerable number of such examples – Anti-Semitism, Nazism, Racism to name a few, which have led to destruction of human life.

Taking the discussion a bit further, I take pride in the fact that the decisions I make or the suggestions I give to others are entirely objective – based on proper analytical facts, weighing pros and cons. But isn’t the analysis itself flawed if the basis of my assumptions is itself prejudiced? Analytical that I am, I wanted to have an answer to this complex conundrum. The answer being – There is a continuum between decisions based on prejudice and decisions based on experience. Most of our decisions fall under this continuum – atleast that is what I think (prejudiced again?? ;))

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