COLUMN: The Human Condition

Publisher Martha E. Conway

Racism… bias… discrimination… inequality… Alive and well and living in America

by Martha E. Conway

Racism: 1. prejudice or animosity against people who belong to other races. “I am a Muslim and … my religion makes me against all forms of racism.” Malcolm X Speech, Prospects for Freedom. 2. the belief that people of different races have different qualities and abilities, and that some races are inherently superior or inferior (Encarta Dictionary)

Discrimination: 1. unfair treatment of one person or group, usually because of prejudice about race, ethnicity, age, religion, or gender. (Encarta Dictionary)

Inequality: 1. social or economic disparity between people or groups. 2. unequal opportunity or treatment based on social, ethnic, racial, or economic disparity. 3. the condition or an instance of not being equal. (Encarta Dictionary)

Bias: 1. an unfair preference for or dislike of something. (Encarta Dictionary)

I used to make fun of Emily Post. Those rules of etiquette – say for a dinner party – were too extremist for me. I just couldn’t understand who was going to die if someone used the wrong fork or dipped their spoon from the wrong direction. I guess people used to die of humiliation over stupid things.

I get it now. Even though I still think those types of rules are ridiculous, it has never been clearer than during the past year that we need to have basic rules of society. It gives people a framework within which to operate – ground rules for what is socially responsible and acceptable. An algorithm for people who may feel lost in certain situations, giving them a set of instructions to help improve confidence and comfort in unfamiliar circumstances.

In the early ’80s, I read an essay by Colgate alum Andy Rooney. He wrote that our entire society is based on a foundation of trust. For instance, that when we drive, we trust other motorists to stay on their side of the painted line. We trust they are going to stop at intersections. Essentially, we trust they are going to adhere to the laws of society that make it possible for us to interact safely with each other.

Trust that you would be treated fairly in a traffic stop is gone for a huge number of our fellow Americans. It’s been a source of terror for decades, but within – or at least in an accelerated manner – this past year. Civil discourse has disappeared. Long-festering hatred and resentment erupted. Caring and concern about the social or physical comfort of those around us evaporated.

Too, too many people are walking around like wounded animals looking for an opportunity to unleash Continue reading “COLUMN: The Human Condition”