It’s been said that “Beauty is only skin-deep”. However, I think ugly comes from deeper inside us. And, for decades we have been quite ugly towards each other, based on the superficialities of our beliefs, our chosen affiliations, and even our skin-color. For goodness sakes, our skin-color? Something over which we have absolutely no control drives how we feel about others? This sort of ugliness takes effort. It’s a choice.
Our ugliness towards each other is our shared weakness. We own that, and it is not due to any single person or association, including a political party. It is also not due to skin-color. Our propensity for ugliness is catalyzed primarily by our propensity to mainly exist in our respective comfort zones and echo chambers. If we erroneously judge folks on superficial aspects, like skin-color or beliefs, then we miss out on so much. And, we enable ourselves to make the inevitable incorrect assumptions about others. We then are wrong, more often than right. And, we hurt those that we judge.
Humans don’t grow without stretching beyond their comfort zones. As a society, too many of us are not growing. I think we have instead become comfortable not growing, intellectually and emotionally. That lack of growth is what hurts us; it limits us. Lack of growth begets ignorance, and ignorance, compounded by a lack of emotional intelligence, foments hate, distrust, and even violence.
Our addiction to the gratification of being justified, in our feelings and beliefs, by likeminded folks, the media, and the government, provides a false sense of righteousness. It fuels our continued ignorance and helps us form artificial anathemas in our lives, that we embrace as virtues. Immersed in our own bubbles, our emotional and intellectual growth stagnates. It also creates a platform from which we can form judgments, and launch written, verbal, and even physical assaults on those different from us.
Who is to blame? We are. I think everyone has the capacity for prejudgment and ignorance, at least to a certain degree. While it may be nurture more so than nature, I think that over time it becomes so ingrained in our collective beings that the nurture or experience forms a second-nature. It becomes comfortable, and we don’t recognize the potential ugliness. We don’t recognize our weaknesses.
Judgement is unfortunate, but it’s not terrible; it’s not inescapable or insurmountable. We have the capacity to overcome these weaknesses. We just need to stop, think, and be aware of our weaknesses, our own biases. Introspection before action is the key. How we choose to act is much more important to us and others, than how we initially think. I have to believe that over time, our thoughts will also change, that is, if we try to grow.
I don’t blame folks for their prejudgment, as long as they do not choose to remain weak, and to not grow. I think we need to try much harder to recognize those weaknesses that can lead to misjudging folks different than us. We need to change our thought processes before we act or even speak. Knowing this, it’s a choice to act or speak, to address and avoid our weaknesses, to be less ugly. It’s effort, but the reward is worth it.