Overcoming Prejudices

We had an awesome service this past Sunday at The Orchard. This week Scott’s message was centered around prejudices. How do we treat someone who is different than we are?

A couple of points that really stood out to me:

Is there a gap between how I see people different from me and how Jesus sees those same people?

Jesus stands up for those who are victims of prejudice.

If I treat anyone in this world different from the way Jesus would treat them, I am not living as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Ugh. *hangs head*

So much to say. So much fear of being misunderstood. More fear of being enormously ignorant.

What’s the old line? I’m not prejudiced, some of my best friends are ______ (fill in the blank). I like to think that I’m not motivated by appearance or stereotypes but its not true. I make judgements or react without having all the facts. Sometimes I’m afraid to have conversations with people of other races(more so those I don’t know personally) because I’m scared to death I’ll say something wrong. I don’t know all the rules of racial correctness or what is and isn’t offensive. I guess I should just blast on through being myself and deal with my mistakes?

I pull my children closer when I see a pack of young guys in clothing 10x their size with hoods-especially during the school day. I’m pretty sure they’re up to no good otherwise they wouldn’t be hiding in their clothes. I’m paranoid when ANY language other than English is being spoken around me. I’m sure they’re making fun of me(I know its a BIT vain). I look at moms with wacko kids in stores and wonder how they could ever raise children like that. (Apparently, I don’t read my own blog!) And here’s the big one Christ-following people–and don’t tell me you’ve never done this. Don’t you get all upset when someone cuts you off in traffic or pulls a bonehead move in any situation-until you realize its someone you know or find out they are “a christian”? Why is it ok to be wronged by someone you know but not by a stranger? Shouldn’t you be just as irritated at your friend or just as patient with a stranger?

Here’s what I see toward myself. I am pasty white girl. Overweight. Three kids in 3 years. When I drive my 1999 Sable in my sweatpants and t-shirt, hair in a ponytail and no make-up, I am white trash. When I drive the SUV holding a travel coffee mug, I am soccer mom(and my kids don’t even play soccer). Now INSIDE the store, if I am dressed neatly, hair done with make up, I am treated with more respect than if I don’t have make up on. So if I want to have a good shopping trip, I’m going to have to look good. And you know what? I make these same judgements. I will say that 99.9% of the time, God does something to show me that I’m off base. The mom that I thought(by appearance)was going to be rude and let her child run rampant, actually offers me the only available kiddie cart at the grocery store so my 2 kids can have it rather than her 1. And her child (maybe 5 yrs old?) gets out of the cart with NO COMPLAINING OR WHINING. I’m such an idiot. I wanted to tell her what a great job she was doing raising such a respectful little boy but never got across the parking lot to do it. She drove away with a Jesus bumper sticker on the car. I thought she represented well. And me? Not so much.

I don’t know how to get smarter. I live in a diverse neighborhood and town, go to a diverse church, my daughter’s school is diverse so I don’t think I’m sheltered. I don’t like that these thoughts come up.

Now my husband would say that I do come away from some situations trying to give the benefit of the doubt–especially with moms and kids in public! I just wish that was my FIRST reaction and not something I come around to. I have just got to start getting Jesus into my errands.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Such great things to ponder! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

    Reply

  2. Posted by glandheim on April 30, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Prejudice is such a difficult issue. I was writing about it in a personal email to someone recently. I like just about all Europeans except Frenchmen (their women are great), I like Russians and Iranians and Lebanese. I don’t have an opinion on most Arabs, except the ones who treat their women like crap. I like Japanese and Chinese, most orientals, in fact. I like Indians, but for some reason its like the French. I like Indian women, not so crazy about the men. I don’t have a problem with anyone from the Americas, and have liked most Africans I’ve met. I don’t know enough about the different African nations to have individual prejudices.

    So, world-wide, about the only people I have a problem with are Indian and French men. The ones I actively have a prejudice for are Russians, Iranians, Lebanese and Japanese.

    Where do these prejudices come from? Mostly personal experience. I’ve judged entire cultures based on my experiences with a handful of individuals. It’s pretty stupid, isn’t it?

    Closer to home, the same holds true of different ethnic groups withing the US. Since I’ve interacted with more of them, I can fine-tune my prejudices a little more. All I will say is that there is no group I actively hate, or even strenuously dislike, and there are some I like more than others. I really like New Mexicans, for example.

    People who dress in ways that match stereotypes I see on TV, I tend to match to the stereotypes. Kids in baggie pants and hoodies, I don’t care for.

    I think prejudice is generally a BAD THING, but I don’t know how to realistically avoid it. About all we can do is to not act on them, and not pass them on to our children.

    Reply

  3. Posted by glandheim on April 30, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Since we have at least one Indian reader in common, I thought I should explain my comment about being prejudiced against Indian men. I’ve worked with Indian women, never with men. My only contact with them has been Indian men who were running or managing cults or religious scams of one sort or another, preying on the gullible for money or sex.

    So I judge half a billion men based on my experience with 3 or 4 people. It doesn’t make any sense, and that’s the whole point about prejudice. There are reasons for it, but usually they are bad reasons.

    Reply

  4. I think the first step to breaking prejudice is self-awareness. Something can be done when we at least recognize it and are conscious of it. I find that I need to throw myself into the cold water… start interacting with people who, for whatever reason, make me uncomfortable. It’s a little clumsy at first. Mistakes are made. But most people appreciate the effort, however awkward. As I’ve done more of this, I find that I now enjoy it. I now look for opportunities to make myself uncomfortable. Strange, huh?

    Prejudice also goes for… gays, addicts, homeless, are there others? We are supposed to “love the sinner and hate the sin” – but do we? Or would we rather love them in theory… from a distance?

    More good struggles.

    Reply

  5. For some reason, I don’t think I have a problem relating to homosexuals, addicts(some of my best friends are…), homeless, the unfortunately incarcerated unless its a safety issue. What you said Tom makes me think that I struggle more with unfamiliarity. If I don’t know someone or am unfamiliar with a culture, I’m more uncomfortable. I’d like to be more brave. It just seems self-focused to be otherwise.

    Reply

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