Fear And Prejudice

I experienced something new yesterday and I didn’t like it at all.

Prejudice.

I was hungry so I went to the shopping center to get some groceries but, before shopping, I bought something to eat and stood outside to eat it.

I saw an old man petting a little Staffordshire bull terrier puppy that was tied up outside the shopping center and, when I looked again, the dog was gone.  Next thing I knew someone was asking a young man dressed all in black if he was looking for something and he said yes, his little staffy dog was gone, then he disappeared around the corner.

I kept on eating and waited for the young man to come back so I could tell him what I had seen.  When a young man dressed all in black came to the supermarket doors I thought it was him.

“Excuse me,” I said to him, “have you lost a dog?”

His eyes swept up and down my overweight, tracksuit clad, figure then over to the sausage roll in my hand.  He grimaced with disgust and backed away from me.  He turned his eyes away and didn’t look at me again.

“What!” he said almost angrily and turned his body away from me in complete rejection.  I repeated my question but he was walking off as I did and, realising he would not be taking notice of anything but the word dog if he was the same man I had seen earlier, I gave up and turned away myself.

I have never once in my entire life had that kind of reaction from any man I have ever spoken to.  It was, clearly, the sausage roll in my hand that he didn’t like because when he came out after shopping and I was still there he no longer had a problem with looking at me.

I ignored his attempts to catch my eye and continued scanning the area for the dogs owner.  He lingered over the chore of loading his shopping into his car and seemed puzzled when I continued to avoid meeting his eyes.

The dogs owner did not return so I went inside to do my shopping and asked God to look after the dog and make sure the thief treated it well or that the owner would find it.

As I shopped I fumed over the way the young man had treated me.  How dare he treat me as if I was nothing but an overweight body that should not be eating!  I comforted myself with the thought that, some day, some pretty young thing would look at him with the same disgust when his nose and ear hairs were hanging out and his face was lined with age.

Later on that night I watched the comedy show “Kath and Kim” and it was an episode in which Kim displayed her prejudices against all the other races that live in Australia.

I was appalled to find myself agreeing with almost every word she said!  A little shock went through me as I realised exactly how prejudiced I have become.  How did it happen, I wondered, and when did it happen?  I never used to be at all prejudiced.

It started, I realised, when the five Aboriginal youths attacked me in my own home and stole my car.  I moved away to a place where I hardly ever see any Aboriginals and decided I would never live where there were a lot of them again.  Now it seems to have spread to the point where I don’t want to see any face that is a different colour to mine.

I seem to have adopted all the standard prejudices.  All Asians are money hungry and will cheat me if I deal with them, all blacks are violent criminals, all French people are arrogant, all Muslims abuse their women and so on.

How did this happen?  How did these prejudices creep into my belief system when none of them used to be there?

Then the answer came to me.  Fear let them in.

After being attacked by Aborigines I was left feeling afraid of them all.  I avoided interacting with any of them after that so I have had no positive experiences to offset the fear.

Somewhere along the line I adopted the prejudicial beliefs about the Aboriginal race as my own and came to the conclusion all Aborigines are drunken, or drug affected, violent criminals.

Somehow, accepting one set of prejudicial beliefs about one race has resulted in me accepting all prejudicial beliefs about all the other races.

Somehow, being afraid of one race has allowed fear of other races to creep in.

At the end of the day, when I look deep inside myself, it is not that I believe all those negative things about other races are true.

I’m simply AFRAID they MIGHT be true!

And I can’t help wondering if that young mans prejudice against me was a result of his own secret fears.  Is he secretly afraid he will someday end up with a woman who doesn’t look good?  If so, what does that say about him?