Discrimination

Discrimination means to differentiate, which could have bad connotations, such as to treat individuals differently in a bad way based on race or sex or nationality or creed or religion or just about anything that comes to mind.  For example, blacks have been discriminated against in employment, voting rights, freedom, and many other rights simply based on their color.

However, discrimination has a good side to the coin if it is discerning differences to determine the best of a group of individuals.  For example, we discriminate when we compare Albert Einstein to other scientists because Einstein was different and thus we differentiate his abilities from others in a good form of being prejudiced.  Einstein should be separated from his contemporaries as being the best.

It is interesting to note that most people who claim that they never discriminate against Native Americans, Japanese, blacks, Jewish, Irish, or whatever group is in the “hot box,” are really discriminating because they have made race an issue.  Somebody who truly doesn’t discriminate doesn’t even notice the difference.  A man who says that he likes the black race just showed his true allegiance to his race because he didn’t say that he liked all races no matter what.  The soldier who goes to war with his brothers in arms from all different races and religions and sees no distinction is the true professional who does not discriminate.

So, is there a problem with the “Black Lives Matter” group?  They didn’t say, “All Lives Matter.”  Of course, black lives matter, but so do the lives of red, yellow, tan, brown, and white people.  Some say that blacks have been mistreated for so many generations that they should have the right to discriminate against others.  Well, let’s let the Native Americans have that right first.  And how about allowing the Jews to discriminate against Arabs?  Where does it stop?  We have to say that all lives matter to avoid any continuation of discrimination through “getting even” or revenge motivation.

The discrimination against blacks in the south roots itself deeply in the soil of slavery.  I watched many of these whites spew out their hatred, which was very similar to the hatred of the Jewish people by the Germans.  If you are down and out, you will look for somebody to make yourself feel or look better.  The poor whites in the south didn’t have much in their pockets, but they could always pick on a poor black person to make themselves better than somebody else.

In order to get past the terrible history of murdering blacks and Jews, we need to study our past to make certain that it does not reappear.  Rather than tearing down Civil War statues, it would be much more intelligent to examine the history of that war to prevent it from happening again.  It would be more important to learn that General Robert E. Lee was not in favor of slavery, but, rather instead, joined the Confederacy because he sided with his state, Virginia, over the union.  And when you study the history of General Stonewall Jackson, you learn that he opposed slavery and, in fact, taught blacks in his Sunday School classes.  Jackson was another Confederate leader who fought with Virginia rather than against her.  For you see, history is extremely important to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes.  The mistake made during the Civil War was in not declaring the war was to free slaves and nothing else.  State’s rights should never have been an issue.  In fact, if slavery had been the only issue for the war, Generals Lee and Jackson would have joined the Union side, and the war would have lasted for less than a year.  They were that good!

But emotions pour out when we discuss these issues and mad idiots like Hitler can take over crowds who feed on this adrenaline rush.  Tearing down statues usually is only a start.  Burning the history books and then other books is an intermediary step.  Then it is time to start rounding up the “bad guys and gals,” whoever that might be.  Hitler chose the Jews, but the next totalitarian leader may choose to imprison all the middle and upper class.  It would be like trying to predict the weather on a date next year.  Who knows who will be discriminated against by the totalitarian regime?

And I guess that is my point.  Extremists can discriminate against a selected group.  And then that group can get back at the world and discriminate against another selected group.  It is much like the father who abuses the son, and then the son abuses the grandson.  The discrimination perpetuates itself unless we stop and examine the history behind these extreme movements and learn from them so they don’t happen again.

Discrimination Is “All About You”

I have heard younger generations say, “It’s all about you.”  This is their way of saying that the person being honored with the comment only thinks of themselves and not other people.  Unfortunately, I hear this phrase more frequently in today’s environment.  It seems that politicians do not stand alone in a modern society that has evolved into narcissists.  Currently, a majority of Americans takes care of itself first and foremost.

What has that got to do with discrimination and racism, which is like a resistant blood stain on a white sheet?  Well, discrimination is also “all about you.”  If you belong to any group that feels superior to others, then you are guilty of discrimination.  As an example, if you belong to a soccer team that is winning most of its games and you taunt the other teams as being inferior to your team, you are guilty of discrimination.  As we will see later in the article, there are degrees of discrimination, some being much worse than others.

Bullying of school children by other students is in the news today because sometimes the child being discriminated against brings a weapon to school and starts killing other students.  Bullying through social media is getting out of control.  All these are signs of increasing discrimination by younger generations who are full of themselves.  They only think about themselves.  By hazing other students, it makes them feel superior to their targets.      

I can remember racist comments made in Kentucky when I was growing up and when I was a young adult.  I didn’t have any friends in these hate groups, but I always wondered what was behind the bitterness.

It seemed like the members of these group gatherings felt better since they found somebody else to put down and criticize.  They, in effect, were able to elevate their status above another group simply by discriminating against them.  They wanted to be members of an elite group.

Throughout history, we have seen discrimination against religious groups, races, cultures, nationalities, sexual preferences, poor people, and sometimes, just those who look and act differently than others.  And discrimination is not always the majority against a minority.  History is replete with occasions when totalitarian leaders, who were motivated by a quest for personal power, murdered or imprisoned thousands who represented the majority interests who opposed their leadership.

But there is one thing that can always be said about discrimination:  it is based on selfish needs and desires.  Those who discriminate are satisfying a personal interest.  For example, high school students may form cliques who make fun of “nerds.”  They may bully them on a daily basis, perhaps calling them “geeks” in the hallways and in classes, making fun of them.  These cliques are formed to make them feel important and better than others.  These students feel that life is all about them, and their egos are puffed up as they continue their taunting sessions.

I was in Air Force ROTC back in the late 1960’s and remember how I felt walking across campus being called a “baby killer.”  I wondered why the other students discriminated against me when I had not done anything except take military classes and have a short haircut.  The students who did not like the military were perfectly within their rights to express their opinions about the Vietnam War, but when they burned down my ROTC building and punctured the tires of military students’ cars, they were satisfying their personal needs to place themselves at a higher level than us.  In effect, they believed they were smarter and ethically superior to the military, including ROTC students.

I joined a fraternity in order to get dates because girls would not date somebody with short hair.  But things did not get better because I joined a fraternity.  The members of the fraternity abused the pledges, both physically and mentally.  I watched the members carefully and they seemed to inflate their egos by being able to treat the pledges like second-rate members.  It was all about them.  They had no interest in making the world a better place by encouraging pledges to be better students.  They only cared about making themselves feel superior. 

After completing pledging and becoming an active member of the fraternity, I refused to participate in the abuse and slave rituals, instead requiring the pledges to study for an hour before I would sign their pledge books.  Other members of the fraternity had the pledges do their wash, polish their shoes, get their dinner, or wait on them in some manner.  I did not participate in the physical abuse heaped on the hapless pledges.  It seemed rather barbaric to me and accomplished nothing more than to make the pledges want to do the same thing once they were active members.  It was all about them. 

The active members of the fraternity tried to “black ball” or eliminate me from their group because I did not conform to their standards.  I found out that groups who discriminate try to cull out those who do not join in that discrimination.  It seems that the glue for the groups is discrimination of some kind.  That, sadly, is what keeps them together.  And that discrimination seems to be focused on building up one group and tearing down another.

One definition of discrimination is a difference in treatment or favor on the basis other than individual merit.  This is an interesting definition since it points out that discrimination may also occur when institutions and businesses select individuals for school or jobs based on their belonging to a race, nationality, or religion, rather than based on the merit of selectees.  This is sometimes referred to as reverse discrimination.  All forms of discrimination are based on satisfying selfish interests. 

Does this mean that all forms of discrimination are harmful?  There are degrees of discrimination.  If you are interviewing six people for one job, you will have to discriminate between these six in order to select the person you deem best for the job.  This type of discrimination may be based on comparing education and experience.  This type of discrimination is reasonable.  But you also may discriminate based on the appearance of the individuals.  If a gentleman wears a nice suit and another wears tattered jeans, you may pick the man wearing the suit even though he did not have a strong background in education and experience.  This type of discrimination may be unreasonable.   

Let’s examine laws that discriminate against those who commit crimes.  Are these discriminations acceptable?  I believe so because they are moderate in their approach.  In order for society to avoid, anarchy, chaos, and disorder, there must be consequences administered to those who harm society. 

The problem is where to draw the line.  For example, should society be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals?  Since this is discrimination against a sexual preference, rather than a crime against society, these laws should not be permitted.  Some might argue that homosexual activity harms a society which is based on male-female marriages and families, but this makes little sense.  Homosexual activity, although clearly a sin under the Bible, does not appear to have any more negative impact on society than adultery, also a sin according to the Bible. 

However, sexual predators who attempt to rape others or have sex with children would be harmful to society, thus laws against these activities make sense and should be permitted discriminations.  We may not like to admit that we discriminate on a daily basis, but we all do.  We prefer to have friends who are like us, not necessarily based on race, but on creed.  We like to surround ourselves with people who think like us. 

Is this type of discrimination, based on creed, problematic?  It could be.  A healthy society needs to be creative and should not stifle new thinking.  If everybody thought the same way in a society, it would not be long before those who thought differently would be singled out as being bad for society.  An example is when Darwin came up with the theory of evolution.  This type of thinking is accepted today, but it initially had a difficult road as hard-line religious thinkers discriminated against those who championed this new thought.  However, the opposite may be true today.  Many who believe in evolution are making fun of Creationists.  Those who discriminate improperly may become those who are discriminated against in the future.  Neither form of discrimination is appropriate for a vibrant society.

The bottom line is that discrimination is all about you.  That means that you can change things for the better.  It is not practical to attempt to eliminate all discrimination, but it is possible to focus on improving society and our world through moderation.