Is it Bias or Ignorance, or Both?
Some of the harmful and detrimental side effects of bias and ignorance are divisiveness, conflict, and rage.
What comes to mind when you hear the word bias?
Do you have a fixed definition that comes to mind almost immediately without hesitation or do you ponder the word and reply intentionally?
Bias, itself, is all about having a fixed or closed mindset, and how we react or respond to it might give us some insights into our own biases about certain words and concepts.
When we hear any emotionally charged word and we react to it, it is very likely coming from the paradigms and thought patterns that we have developed over our lifetimes. We are fixed in our ways of thinking and reacting to those kinds of words.
If we are able to create a space to ponder or consider the word then we are more apt to respond to it intentionally. We are open to exploring and discovering new ways of thinking about those words that build on our experiences rather than rely on upon them exclusively.
While bias is thought to be about close-mindedness, there is a very close relationship to another emotionally charged word, ignorance.
Ignorance is most often associated with having a lack of knowledge or understanding along with being unaware. Being uninformed might very well lead to ignorance.
Ignorance seems to have some very critical things in common with bias. The effects of both bias and ignorance can be very harmful to a relationship or a society.
Some of the harmful and detrimental side effects of bias and ignorance are divisiveness, conflict, and rage. When biases are left to fester in ignorance, they are more likely to have an even deeper impact on people.
More often than not, the current climate is promoting and supporting biases and ignorance across most of the country.
It seems that being a part of the solution has been left up to a cadre of like-minded individuals who can envision a society without the negative effects of biases and ignorance.
With this in mind, it occurred to me that there might be some antidotes to biases and ignorance. The antidote, like medicine, only works if we are willing to take it: in this case, take actions focused on moving past the biases and ignorance.
Some of the antidotes to biases and ignorance that will shift the ways in which we look at each other and what is happening around us:
1. Be willing to open your mind. Become curious about the things that are happening and look at them from other vantage points. Do things that would have scared you because of fear and close-mindedness. Could it be that climbing the Harbor Bridge in Sydney is too frightening? Open your mind to the experience and see how you come out on the other end; I did.
2. Be a life-long learner of things around you and far off. Learn from reading or experiencing, or even better, from having a conversation with someone that is outside of your circle of friends or network. Put yourself in a one-among-many situation, like shopping in an open market in Brazil, and see what you learn about yourself and the people around you; I did.
3. Be that person who leaves their comfort zone willingly and with exuberance. Find the value in challenging yourself to do new things and to do things that seem to far fetched. Would you be willing to ride the Moscow Metro without being able to read the station signs and just trust the process of exploring new places with new people? I did.
The benefits of eliminating bias and ignorance serve those who transcend from it as well as those all around them.
When the bias is removed there is less stress in communications and interactions. Additionally, there is more peace when people can meet people with an open mind and heart. Lastly, the harmony that is created when bias is not represented is noticeably different for everyone.
Would you be willing to open your mind and heart to eradicate any harmful biases? It starts by asking questions and seeking knowledge and understanding.
Do you think you might make a difference for yourself and the people around you by some self-reflection of your biases? I did.
The story was previously published on The Good Men Project.