Sunday, August 15, 2010

Where do your prejudices lie?

I watched Paper Clips, a documentary about a small Tennessee town whose Middle School was trying to teach it's children about diversity and acceptance.  They came up with the idea to teach them about the Holocaust. During a discussion about the 6 million Jews that died a girl asked what 6 million was; that she had never "seen" 6 million.  They decided to search for something that they could collect to represent this number.

Enter the paperclip. They discovered it was invented by a Norwegian and that people in Norway wore paperclips, during the war, to represent people they knew who had been killed or taken to the concentration camps .  This was there way of silently remembering and speaking out so as to not be taken away themselves.

The kids started writing letters, one thing led to another and they ended up collecting over 27 million paperclips.  Most would come one or two at a time with a letter telling the kids about the person the paperclip represented. They had visitors who were survivors and ended up getting a rail car that was used to transport Jews.  It was brought to the school and set up as a memorial that 6 million paper clips were housed in.  They are now sharing this lesson with other schools who come there on field trips.

One of the things that was mentioned in the documentary was how quick we are to judge people.  We may think we are not prejudiced because we are fine with Jews, with African-Americans, with Latinos or Asians etc. etc. etc.  But how often do we stereotype people.

Here are some common ones that I have heard:

Southern drawl = stupid red neck.
Overweight person = lazy slob.
Disheveled and unkempt clothes and hair in a Wal-mart = white trash.
Mormons = those crazy people with 6 wives who wear long black coats and have horns.

People think these things but they are all wrong.  I personally don't have 6 wives or horns. I shave mine down for ease of hairstyle.  (bazinga!)

It made me really stop and think about how quick we can be to put labels on people and what a travesty this is.  The thought doesn't really hurt the person, (if there is no action on the thought) I think the person it hurts is the one doing the labeling.  Why cloud your head with negative thoughts about others.  What is the point?

Judge not lest ye be judged ( I read that this is the most mis-quoted scripture and is actually Judge not, that ye be not Judged - Matthew 7:1)

It really gave me something to think about and put into practice.  To have more compassion, pity, and love for others who are different.  It also makes me wonder what labels have been put on me.

Where do your prejudices lie?

1 comment:

  1. I agree...and it's super hard not to judge.
    For me I get nervous when I am some place and have someone scary by me...or if I am in a bad part of town...or something that I feel might put my children in harms way. I think that is sort of natural and something to be aware of. I also didn't grow up in Utah so maybe that is why. I think it's sometimes difficult to find and accept diversity here.
    ps...glad to see you posting again! :)


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