‘What if’ to prejudice

I want my children to grow up in a world that is without prejudice, a world that welcomes everyone, no matter colour, sex, sexual orientation, religion … and so the list goes on – no matter what is the point. And if I want this of the world, I want it of my children, and I want it of myself. So this means I need to open my eyes, find my own prejudices, and wave them on their merry way.

So what is a prejudice? I think it’s a prejudgement or a preconceived idea, that’s based on … well, nothing. I’m afraid I fear we are all prejudiced. And I think that’s ok, if we’re mindful of it. If you notice yourself prejudging, just check in on yourself and say ‘hey, you don’t know anything about it’. If you see a father snap at his child and you think ‘bad dad’, stop yourself and paint a picture. Ask yourself ‘what if’. What if this dad worked the night shift so that his wife can study to become a nurse and they can keep a roof over their heads. So the bloke goes from bad dad to super hero dad. Writers use the ‘what if’ technique to generate ideas for storylines. Could we use it to disarm our prejudice?

Here’s another example. You see a squatter who is sleeping rough and think he’s done nothing with his life – you think you’re better than him. Stop, and paint a picture. What if he was actually the founder of a major corporation, but suffers from supreme bouts of depression. As a result he lost his job, fell behind on his rent, and the rest is history. Are you still better than him? Do you still feel superior?

It’s easy to think that prejudice is about passing judgement over others. But could it be that it actually reveals more about ourselves? Next time we prejudge, lets ask ourselves why we think that, what that says about us, and whether we like it. Chances are, we won’t. So lets stop judging other people, look ourselves in the mirror, and judge who we see there.


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