I was walking down the street the other day and saw something I had never seen before. It was an Asian couple with two very white, Caucasian daughters. Stereotype turned on its head. Paradigm shifted. It made me think about my own prejudices and biases (conscious and unconscious) based on lots of things: how I was raised (in the Southern USA), the media (and how they portray women and minorities), my education, my spiritual path, and the industry I grew up in (construction). I’m sure all of those things shape my world view. So what can we all do to address these inherent biases?
LOSE THE RACE!
Did you know that the concept of race is totally arbitrary? The original concept of race: Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid was a social classification based on physical characteristics, not biological ones. They could have just as easily chosen foot size, eye color, or cranium diameter. And these physical classifications of race were ultimately used to stereotype groups of people in order to control and manipulate them.
When scientists mapped the human genome, they found that we are 99.9% alike in our DNA. One tenth of one percent of our DNA accounts for ALL of our differences. Wow! That’s a pretty small percentage. We are far more alike than we are different. Remember that in all your encounters with other human beings.
CULTIVATE LOVE AND COMPASSION!
Let’s cultivate love and compassion for all: all religions, all philosophies, all victims, all perpetrators, all human beings. It’s the only thing that will ultimately stop the madness.
The harrowing tragedies of late in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston make us all think about these issues of race. The media mostly portrays the conflict in terms of race, which fuels that fire of difference and further separates us.
When John Stewart interviewed Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner. The Taliban shot her in the head for speaking out for women’s rights and education. John Stewart asked her how she reacted when she learned that the Taliban wanted her dead. Here is her response:
“I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.”
What if we all cultivated that attitude?
The male/female divide is also interesting. Did you know that we all start out as women? The sex hormones that are released well into development are what causes us to be men instead of women. So we are already developing as women prior to this influx of male hormones. So the presence of males on the planet may just be a genetic aberration (tongue planted firmly in cheek).
There are male/female differences. Our brains are different. We are wired differently. The corpus callosum, the bridge that connects the right and left sides of the brain is thicker in female fetuses than in male fetuses. Young girls are better with language and fine motor skills. Young boys are better with spatial skills. Women are faster and more accurate at identifying and controlling strong emotions such as anger and aggression. These are all brain hard wiring facts.
So what does this all mean? I’m not naive enough to think that we can all love each other and just get along. Maybe that’s the real key. To show true compassion and understand these two fundamental things: that we are completely different and that we are 99.9% alike. If we could hold those two concepts in our heads and know that most of us want simple things such as to love and be loved and to have a nice life (safe and free) with family and friends, we could make some changes in this world. And make no mistake. It starts with every single individual. Sow love, not hate.