Prejudice – blind hatred of a stranger, based on superficial differences
‘I don’t know you from Adam, and even though you have not harmed me in any way, I hate you, I hate you so much.
‘When things go wrong in my life for reasons I cannot fathom, I blame you for that. And there are other times, when a little soul searching and self-introspection can explain the reasons for the bad choices I make, but instead of taking the opportunity to become a better person, I hate you viscerally.
‘And if you think that I will credit you for the things that go right in my life, you are stupider than I thought you were. All that credit belongs solely to me, only me. And if you think that I act like a petulant child, why not? When this hatred of “different” people is sanctioned by my own family and endorsed by the society either explicitly or implicitly.
‘When there are no explanations for things that go wrong, it is easy to blame it on faceless, nameless mass. My parents learned it from their parents all the way to the beginning of civilization, back when people were tribal, probably motivated by the fear of survival.
‘Now after all these millennia, when so much has changed, when most of my unexamined fears and hatred could be largely baseless, I still have no reason to change my behavior.
‘I will continue to hate to you – a complete stranger – for any number of ludicrous reasons; because you look different from me or because you do menial work in my house or any number of frivolous reasons. I will use you – the invisible person, as a target for all the things that go wrong in my life.
‘And I will not get to know you, even when I have the opportunity to do so. Do you know why? If I make that genuine effort, you will no longer be a stranger and rationality may force me to not hate you. You may even erase the barriers in my head. Then what would I do? There would be no one to blame for the things that go wrong in my life.’
Racism – ‘Your melanin levels are different than me, I hate you’
Religious prejudice – ‘Your head wear is different from mine, I cannot stand that. Come on, take it off. Here, don’t resist you, stupid person. You do know my God is better than yours.’ (The last sentence is paraphrased from a Simpsons’ episode)
Homophobia – ‘You practice intimacy differently than me, that makes me hate you. I shouldn’t be peeking into someone else’s bedroom. But if I didn’t do that, I cannot hate you. So I hate you.’
Casteism – ‘You keep my home and neighborhood clean and sanitary, clean the dishes that I cook and eat from, wear the clothes you launder, eat the food grown on my land by your toil and sweat, which is probably why you are grimy and filthy all the time. And frequently even though I am the one who soils your women, I find you repugnant. So shoo, shoo, go away, you are stirring my guilt.’
1 Character-Soliloquy: Like the technique employed in plays, I try to channel a character for demonstrable effect. This character is fictitious and created for the purpose of this article.
Note: Just as in truth-discount, all prejudice is not equal, degrees matter. Thus, the fictitious character described in this article does not apply to people who live in communities steeped in ignorance, possibly entrenched in poverty and exploited for their misery. They have enough troubles of their own without having the time for soul-searching. The character portrayed here is ascribed to those who have a better life than most, because they were born into better socio-economic strata and have the opportunity to break these imaginary walls. Yet, they refuse to break free of these negative notions, possibly because it gives them an excuse to stay childish.