“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the future inaccessible.”
– Maya Angelou
Prejudice is like a branch in your eye – there’s no seeing past it. When we set our minds to believe that an entire group of anything or anyone is beyond redemption or not worth our time, then we strongly limit our opportunities in life. In reality, that’s precisely what prejudice is: the belief that everything matching one descriptor simply doesn’t have value. Worse still is when this bias goes from apathy or distaste to flat-out hatred.
Personally, I believe that prejudice will only ever make you less effective. Just as importantly, it seems evident that much of society does not support stereotyping, segregation, and intolerance. Consider that many of the great revolutions throughout history began over issues of equal treatment and acceptance. Even at it’s most apathetic level, prejudice closes many doors which would otherwise be open to you – doors that you have chosen to keep yourself out of. A successful person opens doors – even tears holes through walls when needed.
Now, my focus so far has really been on prejudice as it exists in society, but the concept itself is more than racism or ageism. Indeed, prejudice is beyond being just a human thing, either, but the most attention is focused here as social conflict is perhaps the most detrimental manifestation of intolerance. So, while I don’t mean to subtract anything from that significance, remember that your biases extend beyond people. You may be making decisions which limit your pathways to success simply by things you are unwilling to try or consider.
Imagine this within the realm of careers and occupational success: perhaps you fancy yourself an artist? Fantastic! The world will always benefit from the remarkable, passionate creations of those inclined to paint and sculpt! Unfortunately, your path to becoming financial successful (maybe even financially viable) is going to be difficult. Your interest represents a very common passion – your career field has a healthy pool of candidates fighting over a small number of jobs.
Now, in this same scenario, you decide to do some research. Hypothetically, let’s say you find that your area is in need of architects or conceptual and design artists? Perhaps this isn’t exactly what you had in mind, but here is a chance to be paid for your craft! This may not be your ideal, long-term solution, but you’ve gained a foothold. Be careful when allowing yourself to believe that certain options are “beneath you”. Who’s to say? The job you pass on may have been the stepping-stone to launch your true career.
Remember that every one of us has our own prejudices, biases, and stereotypical beliefs. Try as we may, it is human nature to group, organize, and categorize things together – no effort on your part will ever make you completely neutral. The goal, then, should be that we become aware of our leanings and inclinations – and especially of our intolerance and disdain. Actively work to improve yourself and be more accepting of others as they are. Likewise, don’t let your bias keep you from succeeding. Whenever you can, take the time to try or learn about something outside of your experience. The world is an amazing place, so leverage the privilege to learn and grow rather than stagnate and hate.
Thank you for your time.