Every one of as we grew inherited some kind of prejudice and bias from people who had influence over us. It could have been our parents, grandparents, pastors, imams, scientist, authors, musicians, smart uncles and aunties who handed us the lens.
So, have you? Very happily dispensing hard earned money to all who tender a request, he’s a picture of pure charm always with his best agbada and foot forward and detests passionately all the days of his life the taste of that starchy staple – Garri. He’s only second in generosity to the business savvy igbo man who lives to give away his wealth to charity yet if you have met any of these two men I must congratulate you. Better yet, if you believe you will meet one of these two men, I give a resounding round of applause. If you think that these two men are merely a figment of my imagination, then please read on. I won’t be surprised if we are all off the mark on many things. One day, you will meet a generous Ijebu man or a charitable Igbo man, and it will hit you just how much we miss out on the beauty of life when we let our prejudices precede our experiences.
It is really curious that we hate people we have never met and deny qualified people certain opportunities, their only crime being that they hail from a particular tribe. We need to entertain the fact that majority of these false myths were originally created by men who in their own time could not have visualized beyond the world they lived in. When we embrace certain views without questioning them, we put the rest of our lives in jeopardy. But we do this often, even as adults. This could be acceptable for a season, but as life unravels, we must be able to question our presumptions, unpack our biases and x-ray each strand of our prejudices. We must examine our political ideologies and religious persuasions and everything that has become an essential part of what defines us.
Every one of as we grew inherited some kind of prejudice and bias from people who had influence over us. It could have been our parents, grandparents, pastors, imams, scientist, authors, musicians, smart uncles and aunties who handed us the lens. We believed and embraced their views and started living through these. Our culture, tradition and religion also do a good job in handing us certain kind of lenses that do not only colour our views of life but also confine our thinking. Our ideas about life, love and whatever we embrace are often through a lens.
Society and media are also culprits. Hollywood does a good job of reinforcing some stereotypes of beauty and heroism. Remember Santa? I was devastated the day I found out that contrary to what mum told me, there was no Santa Claus and in fact the man who played Santa was a Sunday school teacher in the Junior Church. Without even knowing, we deliberately ignore evidence that contradicts our assumptions and plop! We fall victims of the myths that we could have avoided.
Few things can be as disturbing as those whose minds are wrapped in a non-confrontational brain casing. Remember that those who turn you down because they hate your tribe or colour, are victims of their own prejudices. The walls of prejudice tell more about those who erect it than those whom it is erected against, it screams loudly of their inability to confront their small worlds. They are victims of their minds and have accepted life’s limitation, so now they live within a box. If you walk away and feel like enacting a revenge, guess what? They just succeeded in helping you create your little box.
Our problems are not the questions we can’t answer; they are the answers we have never questioned. Proverbial statements often provide the backdrop against which we make the decisions that shape our destinies. We need to view most of them from a different light. One is said that the taste of the pudding is in the eating, but it is possible that the taste is in the baking. They say the bird at hand is worth ten in the bush. But the bird in my hand could actually prevent me from catching another out there in the proverbial ‘bush’ – what if it became sick and died? If I can keep the bird in hand and chase after the ten in the bush, I will! ‘A patient dog eats the fattest bone,’ in my opinion, it will only get whatever crumbs are left by the dogs that hustle. Isn’t that the whole point of life?
The only stupid questions are the unasked ones. In the end, I am happier to leave with the question that has no answer than the question I cannot ask. I do not claim to have answers, I am seeking answers myself but let’s not join people that have relegated common sense to the back burner and stuck with the rules. Everyone that wants to experience life to the fullest should learn to be his own devil’s advocate and make a conscious effort to view things both ways.
Why do we need to think again? Man became civilized not by the willingness to believe but by his willingness to doubt. People who changed the world were not only satisfied with what was written on the page, but were able to read things not written on the page.
I also have my prejudices, biases and cherished assumptions. I don’t even know all of them, but I am trying hard to uncover and correct these mindsets. To live without an awareness of the danger is not an option for me. I think I understand J. F. Kennedy when he said, “The time has come for us to move away from the reassuring repetition of stale thinking to a new difficult but essential confrontation with the reality of ourselves; only then can we grow.
It is time to drop your lens. Our thinking does not limit our life; it only limits our experience of life. You and I should learn how to take a scalpel to the wise words of men, so feel free to detoxify yourself; to toss out the proverbial bath water, but be careful with the ‘baby’.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.