Prejudice Seeps Into Your Being

My wife and I just finished watching the entire series run of Agatha Christie’s Poirot stories. I’m not a Christie scholar, but I’ve found how she handles many sensitive topics fascinating.

For example, The Murder on the Orient Express explores the conflict of Poirot’s deep Catholic sense of morality versus the broader sense of justice.

More interesting is how she so naturally weaves English national prejudices against “foreigners” (Poirot is Belgian) and people of other races. I don’t know if she is reflecting English prejudice or if given which characters say what that she is subtly poking at those prejudices.

But I see how subtly and pervasive attitudes toward others different from oneself creep into language.

My gut tightens whenever I hear an adjective used as a noun. I hear “the blacks” or “the gays” or “the Jews” or “the Muslims” or “the Christians” and on and on.

These are actually people—a thought perhaps surprising to some. Black or gay or Jew or whatever may be one adjective describing someone. However, there are many more words that could also describe that individual person—nice, angry, deceitful, honest, peaceful, fearful…

The spiritual discipline I work on constantly is to filter my thoughts and words such that I talk of people, not attributes. This learned behavior that seeps deep into the being can be countered—but we must be honest with ourselves. There is that self-awareness discipline appearing yet once again.

A quick glance through social media shows me that there are many others who also have work to do in this area.

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