Saturday, February 8, 2014

Humble Enough To Be Corrected

The columnist in View from the Ark recalls the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis Tennessee in 1968 and the riots and violence that followed. Jane Elliott a third grade elementary school teacher embarrassed and angered, devised a very simple experiment with her students which the columnist briefly describes. Her experiment is written up in the book Blue and Brown Eyes.

Jane, told the students that they would be two groups in the class. The  blue eyed students would wrap a cloth collar around the brown eyed students. They would be treated as inferior and the blue eyed be given privileges. It was an exercise to understand how you feel when you are the object of discrimination. The next day it was the brown eyed students that would be the superiors and the blue eyed the inferior ones, and given the treatment the blacks received.

It was only done for two days but the children quickly  grasped and internalized what was to be done and even though artificially manipulated  those  discriminating felt  joy and those who received the discrimination felt great anguish and pain.

The columnist is using an article that was written on this issue of  discrimination in one of the daily papers. This kind of experiment is very dangerous admits the columnist for the chances  of being hurt seriously is not missing. And Jane Elliott also admitted that  it would be nice to have another way of bringing about the same kind of  learning.

In this experiment  those who participated and those who viewed it all were moved deeply. Words, no matter how well chosen do not  have the same effect as when you bodily experience  discriminating and being  discriminated. The  artificiality with the  experiment was not accepted well by the  adults when they were asked to participate in the exercise. After a couple hours the exercise  was discontinued. Once seeing the injustice they don't want to participate.

Bias more than a  reason for prejudice, is  often the results. Bias narrows our vision of the world  and makes it smaller, but prejudice  cripples the other which makes it much more harmful. The columnist said after reading the book Blue and Brown Eyes she compared it with the society in which she lives. Even the artificial exercise was considered dangerous by some, how about the the gap between the rich and the poor, status  in society, religion, political positions, personalities, appearances and the like. Don't we see how the bias and prejudice that we come in contact daily is affecting many in society?

Any arbitrary differences on which we base our
prejudice,  for the most part, is not reasonable or has any foundation. Race, color of skin, religion, we know where to stand. However, a little difference in opinion  and  right away we ticket the person as a follower of the North. Isn't this a sign of prejudice? Important for us is to give heed to the words of others who make known the prejudice that this shows, and become aware  of it. We have to revisit the Golden Rule and make it a living part of our life.

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