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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2 comments so far

  1. Anonymous on

    There is a thin line of difference between prejudice and “coloured opinion”, while the former is always negative the latter is not. So whenever u have a preconceived notion about things(religious beliefs ingrained in childhood, et al)or people its not always Prejudice.
    An ex. of prejudice could be the Sat Yuga (near perfect) society(during Ramayana) which questioned the bodily santity of SITA just because she was abducted by Ravana, their thought process being prejudiced by the moral codes of the day.
    While complete objectivity or an “Open Mind” (antithetical to the state of being Prejudiced) in Humans is well nigh impossible the moot point is that given u r prejudiced how do u surmount or atleast circumvent it?!!!!!
    Hope i have added enough Prejudice to the already prejudiced reader (and writer/commentator of course)!!!!

    – Aloke Hardas.

  2. Anonymous on

    “Prejudice is defined as: An adverse judgment or opinion formed before- hand or without knowledge or examination of the facts”
    I many a times ask myself – How far will I actually go to uncover facts to support or unsupport my “opinion”??? Many a times I know the facts but my prejudices are so strong that I will ignore them and stick to my pre-concevied notions coz it so so much more convenient and easy.
    And sometimes I will dig for facts which support my prejudices whereas the truth is staring at me in the face.
    Objectivity is not always non-prejudiced coz its ones point of view based on ones experience, understanding, maturity etc etc.

    –Aarti Nemlekar


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