How Does Bigotry Enter into Mind?
How does bigotry enter into mind?
I thought about this question for sometime now. A child is born with pure heart, no shred of bigoted ideas or thoughts can be present in his or her pristine mind. When I cradled my son for the first time, he was so tiny. The nurse wrapped him up in a small blanket and first she took him to my wife, the mother who gave birth after an agonizing delivery process that lasted more than 16 hours. Then I hold him in that wrapped up blanket. He could not open his eyes fully then, slept the entire time I hold him for about an hour before we left the delivery room and went to the recovery room.
Children learns from the parents. It took my son about an year to say a coherent word though he had started blabbering some words way early than that, maybe in his 3rd or 4th month he started saying meaningless words as part of his learning.
If angels are real then children are angelic. They come to this world with open mind. They look at the world with the newly opened eyes, listen to the strange sounds surrounding them, looking at the strangest lights, and shape of people moving about, uttering sounds that he or she could not comprehend. And then, day by day, the brain grows, and children, like miracles, starts learning and before long starts saying words, bringing joys to the family.
Unlike my son I grew up in a nation where most people were one kind. There was no Latinos, no Mexicans, there were no people from other nations, at least I didn't see them in the beginning. My father and mother were in the music world, so they had friends in musical world including in India and Pakistan. Sometimes, some of these people, singers, music directors came to our home. Slowly I learnt about some other cultures, though they had similarities, but subtle differences were there, like their primary languages, Hindi or Urdu, the efforts of my parents took to speak in those languages when they invited them, or when they stayed with us for a few days.
I didn't know about religion until my parents hired a tutor for me to learn some basic Arabic. It was so difficult in the beginning. Only thing I learnt from that stern faced tutor was memorizing some required "Suras" to learn to pray. I still remember some of these Suras. The tutor was indeed stern and sometimes outright rude as if he had received a divine authority to be harsh with the children. My sister and I used to wait with fear every day in the afternoon before he came and asked us to recite the memorized Sura. If we missed anything, any words or pronunciation, he took our hands, and slammed it with a small stick. We just cried, silently mostly, and then went back to learn more. It was so early in my life, I have forgotten most of that traumatic memory. I remember my mother fired that tutor after learning the excessive punishment.
My mother was a fashionable lady. She was a singer, performed in television and radio regularly and also sometimes in live events. As far I can remember, she disliked all those stern faced Mullahs like my father did. My parents prayed daily, but they did not accept any hatred and superiority spewing people.
I don't see any wrong in people who like to pray and have deep faith in their religion. My parents had similar faith. My father prayed until his last breath and my mother in her advanced age now is devout and faithful, however, she still likes to be fashionable and have no issues with people with any other faith.
I do have issues with people, including Mullahs and bigots and very rigid and stern faced people who promote religion such a way that do not keep any option for people with other faith or no faith. For them, everyone that does not believe in their faith and religion is destined for hell, and only they and people like them will be automatically selected as heaven bound. How laughable does this sound? This is true. If you go through various comments section in Facebook or Twitter, you can find these types of moronic arguments still get displayed and shared openly.
You see, when a child is born, he or she does not have any religion or faith. He or she learns everything from parents and other family members and as children grow up, they learn from their environment. So a child born into a Muslim family is a Muslim, a child born into a Christian family is a Christian, a Jewish children born into a Jewish family, A Hindu child is born into a Hindu family, a Buddhist child has Buddhist parents. If my parents had Zoroastrian religion, I would be calling me a Zoroastrian. There is no uniqueness about it. We are what we are by pure luck of draw. Nothing else.
When children grows up into adulthood, from any religion or faithful background, or perhaps no faith background, most of them cling to their parents' faith, understandably so, as that becomes ingrained into his or her identity.
When I was studying in Texas, I had a spirited argument with a born Texan. He had light complexion, tall, blue eyes, I think he also had slight reddish beard if I am remembering it correctly. He was my classmate and we were eating lunch along with a few other class mates. For whatever reason, we started arguing about the merit of Christianity and Islam. He was trying to convert me and I was trying to convert him, it was a funny scenario. We both argued with passion, and I thought that's the end of it, but the next day I saw him, he acted he didn't know me. It was hurtful then, now that memory came back as I am writing this. From then I understood that there is no spirited argument even among friends in regards to religion or faith, it can severe any friendship instantly.
About a year later I saw my old friend at the intersection of a street, talking loud about his strong held belief and the very danger of going to hell unless everyone does not covert to his belief. It was my turn not to recognize him and I just walked on.
Mullahs with unbending and rigid belief are in every religion, in Christianity, Islam, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhism, and they also exist in non faith based people like absolutist atheist. They have one thing in common despite their religious/irreligious difference, they are super certain of their immovable ideas that they are absolutely right of their claims and everyone else is absolutely wrong.
How bigotry enters and flourishes in people's mind?
It is not through any particular religion or faith or non faith. Bigotry enters through absolute rigidity. It seeps into our mind from our unwillingness to open up to the wider world. It slowly changes our outlook, it whispers in our inner ear about the evil others, and it incites us to do crazy things, like harming others who does not look like us, does not think like us. Every time we just shrug off seeing someone acting bad or downright bigoted, terming others as super sensitive or a snowflake without standing up to bigots, we are becoming part of this vicious cycle and promoting bigotry.
Bigotry permeates every culture and nation. Yes, there are marginalized people who suffer the most from bearing the brunt of bigotry. But that also does not make it right to be a bigot toward anyone that is not in the marginalized segment of a society. Two wrongs indeed don't make a right.
We were born with pristine and crystal clear mind. Life, its ups and downs, the nurturing or lack of it that we get as we grow up, the environment we surround with, our close circles, the books we read, the movies that we watch, and myriad of other factors nudge us toward one way or another.
Like everything else, it is up to every one of us, how we can get rid of any tiny bit of bigotry from our heart and mind.
It's a challenge and it is winnable.