Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Self Knowledge

Overcoming Personal Prejudice

Personal prejudice is a cancer in the heart that feeds on ignorance, a weed that chokes the true fruit of charity through selfishness, pride, and social convention. While prejudice is something everyone experiences in themselves at some time, it is possible to overcome such a divisive agent.

The first step in confronting personal prejudice is to recognize that one has these prejudices and recognize a need to change. After this, an excellent way to follow up this desire for change is to do research, discover what is fact and what is fiction in what you believe about other people. For example, many Catholic and Orthodox Christians will lay down numerous theological and historical divisions that supposedly exist between these two lungs of the Church, but very few ever take the time to do extensive research into the teachings of the common Church fathers and saints or examine the historical motives of actions which, through misunderstandings and misrepresentation, have driven us apart. Ignorance breeds bigotry, and thus education is an essential tool in overcoming prejudice.

The most radical way to confront one's personal prejudices is to live with or have constant close contact with a person who possesses the irksome traits. For example, a person who is irrationally prejudiced against obese people could consider taking an obese person as a roommate.
There are many singular ways for someone struggling with personal prejudice to combat this dark disposition of their heart, but to be truly successful in this endeavor, one should draw from multiple methods and resources. Micah 6:8 reads, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” The bible paints out quite clearly for us that the Lord calls each and everyone of us to do justly in our actions, with a spirit of kindness, what is written in humility on our hearts. The natural law of love is inscribed on the souls of all, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, weight or any other aspects of the person created in the image and likeness of God, and it is also written on our hearts to recognize this glory, treating all with the same dignity and respect as though they were Jesus or the Blessed Mother themselves, come to visit us in the disguise which challenges us the most to love. The love of Christ is demanding and as Christians, called to the imitation of Christ, we must follow Him in His outreach to the poor, the marginalized, the sinful, and the unwanted, not only with our actions, but bringing them into the sanctuary of our hearts, making a home there for Jesus in all his disguises.

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