There is always some kind of prejudice. In the times of Jesus, tax collectors were possibly among the most hated. They used to take far too much money and leave people with virtually nothing. I can’t honestly promise I wouldn’t have been among the haters.
Fast forward on to today, and you will see a different kind of prejudice. The focus has been taken off the tax collectors and, although we all moan about our government, the prejudice most definitely isn’t against them.
Instead, we see the people that are struggling on the receiving end. Those on benefits, or immigrants for example.
The big companies, that take the majority of our money are rarely spoken about. It’s always so much easier to focus on the smaller people. I think maybe the big companies seem too huge for us to tackle, or maybe it’s because people just don’t realise.
The media plays a huge part here. It’s convenient for the focus to stay on the people with the smaller voice. So they make sure that’s where the attention stays.
Ultimately, the media don’t work for us. If they did their narrative would change.
Prejudice in this sense though is convenient for them.
There are other prejudices too. Think of people with autism (this one is a bit more personal to me) or those that stand out a bit. I recently had an autistic friend say to me that she really can’t work because she’s been bullied out of every work place she’s ever been in.
Can you imagine what that feels like?
There is an innate thing with in us, that seems to reject people that don’t conform to social norms, or behave in a way we feel they should. But actually, dig a little deeper and what you find is another human, with plenty of good and bad qualities, just the same as every one else and you may well find that because you took the time, you make yourself a really loyal friend.
So how do we change our attitudes and prejudices?
Going back to the Tax collector, Jesus called him down from the tree and went around to his house to dinner.
Ok the story ends with the tax collector changing and giving back the money he took, but I like to think there are more lessons to be learnt from the story.
What did the crowd think when they realised where Jesus was heading? Did it make them rethink the hatred?
Jesus of course didn’t change through his visit. He was God. We are human though, these things change us.
So instead now of taking things at face value. Look at people rather than ‘facts’ and listen.
If you have a prejudice against immigrants, talk to somebody who is, maybe invite them over and learn about them, find out who they are. At the end of the day they are still human.
The same goes in the work place; if somebody seems a little quirky, don’t take them on face value. Don’t reject them before you’ve seriously attempted to befriend them. You may find you make yourself a great friend!
The only way prejudices ever get fought is when we make an effort to change our own attitudes to those around us.
It’s never them and us, it’s always just humans.