Monday, November 09, 2009

The roots of prejudice

sign My thanks to Kanani for this photo.

I recommend you read the full story, Words may hurt, but the will has to be stronger. In this post I want to deal with just one thing and that very shortly, the roots of prejudice.

As a manager, management consultant and trainer, part of my job has been to create a sense of group identity; team building. Often this involves opposing the group to an external entity. We are going to show them!

There is nothing wrong with this. Competition is part of life. But sometimes it can go badly wrong.

Prejudice starts with a sense of difference combined with group loyalty. To this is added derogatory labels often applied from both sides. Add fear and historical grievances and you have a poisonous mix.

I am not immune to this, none of us are. Yet for the sake of the species and indeed this planet we have to fight our own human tendencies.


Kanani said...

Thanks for the link, Jim.
Yes, the other night, CNN was devoting a lot of time to this issue. But none of what he might have faced was justification for what he did. And it seemed as if while CNN was trying to delve into his psyche, they were also in not a small way, trying to justify his actions.

The roots of prejudice are sad and built upon a need to control. It's something we all have to fight, even within ourselves.

Jim Belshaw said...

Kanani, I agree with your points.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim

I very much hope that Kanani took the time to actually read what you wrote – but I assume not, reading the comment above.

What an amazing world we now live in: where such a tragedy can be analysed, and causation fixed, and retribution demanded; all within a couple of news cycles.

Much more efficient than the good old trial by jury.


Afterthought: Kanani might not be aware just how provocative that picture is in an Australian context? But you must be.

Jim Belshaw said...

Oddly, David, I saw the picture in a US context. During the war a very large number of US residents of Japanese origin were interned. This happened in Australia too, although the numbers were far less of course.

While the action can be justified on war grounds, it has become clear with the passage of time just how much injustice there was.

Its such a striking photo. I did not comment on the very specific event itself.

Your point in your second para is well taken. To use an Australianism, we do go in for Kangaroo courts.