Prejudices should not be something you teach your children

“Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.”

Denis Leary

The other day I was sitting in traffic, when a strange question sprung to mind: is it possible to fully love someone who supports societal and stereotypical prejudices?

It was an odd question I admit, but there it was with no definitive answer on the horizon.

Prejudice has often been defined as “a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience”. But I think Charles R. Swingoll summed it up best when he said, “Prejudice is a learned trait. You’re not born prejudiced; you’re taught it.”

For some it’s those individuals whose socioeconomic conditions pale in comparison to our own.

For others it’s a person’s race, choice of religion, sexual orientation or even gender.

Sadly there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of so called “reasons” to find prejudice with another human being – however illogical they might be.

Now it’s one thing to find prejudice with say brussel sprouts, the color fuchsia, or old black and white movies. Those aren’t the societal and stereotypical prejudices I’m speaking about.

It’s important to remember that prejudice = hate. And in this writer’s opinion it’s the worst kind of hate – one filled with inaccuracy and driven by fear. In short it’s nothing more than hearsay and propaganda handed down from one generation to the next without questioning its motive.

And there is perhaps the greatest problem with societal and stereotypical prejudices – we teach them to our children.

It’s a parent’s responsibility to guide and educate their children. But perhaps their most important responsibility is to teach them to respect the differences that exist all around them. To never judge someone on archaic prejudices that perpetuate amongst families, but to understand that being “different” is not something to be fearful of.

If only we could understand that we have the power to stop this cycle of hate, then maybe the future would look much brighter for the children walking around with inherited hatred.

I understand that we’re all human, and therefore it’s human nature to find prejudice with people we don’t understand or cannot relate to. “We are each burdened with prejudice; against the poor or the rich, the smart or the slow, the gaunt or the obese. It is natural to develop prejudices. It is noble to rise above them.” ~Author Unknown

But it’s that ignorance which breeds hate and eventually leads to violence in the places we work, learn and live. It’s time parents realize it’s their ultimate responsibility to set aside what they “believe” and empower their children with the knowledge that everyone deserves to be treated fairly and respected without prejudice. To not allow the fear of what we don’t understand to drive our opinions of people.

So does any of this answer my question from above? IS it possible to fully love someone who supports societal and stereotypical prejudices?

I’m sure it’s happening in towns, cities and villages all across the globe. But the real question is when your children grow up, will they love and respect YOU for teaching it to them?