I wonder what the world would be like if there were no such thing as bigotry . . . of any kind.
It seems that bigotry has been such an integral part of human society throughout history that one would almost come to the conclusion that it’s simply part of human nature. I wonder when it began. Arabs vs. Jews, Catholics vs. Protestants, whites vs. blacks, French vs. English, the poor vs. the rich, heterosexuals vs. homosexuals, Sunnis vs. Shiites, and on and on and on and on and on.
These prejudices may not be nearly as pronounced in some places and among some segments of society as others, and some have softened over time, but do the effects of past bigotries—the aforementioned among them—not still pervade societies in subtle if not blatant ways?
At the same time, there are infinite examples of people from such opposing groups (and I’m sure there always have been) who, at the individual level, get along with and live alongside each other in perfect peace and harmony, and even marry and create families across racial, religious, ethnic, tribal and socio-economic lines.
I’ve known people who, in one breath, will berate other races, nationalities and religious backgrounds, and in the next, speak of an individual member of one of those same groups whom they’ve gotten to know, and they talk about what how wonderful that person is. Sometimes, however, the underlying prejudice still manages to come through . . . “She’s Jewish, but she’s really nice” . . . “He’s really a very clean-cut intelligent black guy”. OUCH!!! Have we not all heard these kinds of statements or possibly made them ourselves at times without a second thought?
There are many cases of Israelis and Palestinians who have come together to live and work together in perfect peace and harmony while their political and military leaders continue to destroy each others’ homes and livelihoods. Back in the slave days in the United States it was not uncommon for masters to actually fall deeply in love with one of their slaves despite the unbelievable dangers they would face if found out. Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States was a perfect example.
There’s an age-old adage that we tend to hate or fear what we don’t understand.
I wonder, if we simply made a little more effort to get acquainted with and understand each other as individuals, is it possible that any form of the word “bigotry” might eventually disappear from the face of the Earth? I wonder if we would also begin to understand and feel a little better about ourselves, both as individuals and collectively. I wonder what the world would be like then.