On the Origin of Bigotry

Children are not born bigots. Many people have noted this fact. Sure, they exhibit choices, even at a very early age, but not the bigotry of their elders. So, where does bigotry enter the picture?

I have come to believe that people believe what they are taught, either by direct education by other people or through their own life experiences. This applies to almost every area of belief & thought — religion, politics, history, art, and general values as to good & bad, right & wrong, proper & nasty.

In the case of life experiences, a large part of what we learn from them is based on pattern recognition, finding the connections and situations we were taught to seek by others.

Only a small part of what we believe comes from logic or unbiased thinking.

So, bigotry is learned behavior. If you want to stop bigotry, you have to keep the children away from the bigots or, at least, keep the bigots from teaching their bigotry to them.

This is, of course, not exactly a new idea. James P. Hogan, the late, lamented Irish SF author, wrote one of his most well-liked books after deciding that the only end to the Irish troubles would be an entire generation of children sent away to another planet to be raised by unbiased robots.

I don’t suggest such a course of action (robots are not so plentiful & space travel is not a practical option for large groups of people at this point in our history).

I do think it is long past time when we need to hold parents & religious leaders & politicians & other teachers accountable for what they are teaching to the children. How to do that is beyond me to say, but that it must be done if we are to survive as a free people seems pretty clear, as bigotry of one sort or another is tearing this world and this country apart.

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About Tim Gatewood

55+, male, widowed (May 2016). Mobile notary public and signing agent, freelance writer, and ordained minister. Science fiction and fantasy fan, willing servant to cats, avid reader and collector of books and other stuff. Please see my websites (including this blog and others) for more info on me and what I think about the issues of the day.
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