The Deep Roots of Human Prejudice

Source: buzzfeed.com

Source: buzzfeed.com

The roots of human prejudice are so deep, and it is so pervasive, that it almost feels like second nature to man.

While it is widely believed that men are born free of prejudices, you would find it hard to believe just how naturally they come to us. It almost is the best, most suitable reasoning shortcut.

What if prejudice were an inseparable trait of an intelligent species? And if it isn’t. Why do people continue to indoctrinate their children with prejudiced ideas and undoubtedly have been doing so for centuries? And does prejudice go beyond nationalistic, ethnic, and religious boundaries? Apparently, it does.

What if prejudice is a problem that possibly cannot be separated from the act of thinking?

We are surely the only prejudiced species, or so we believe.

 

Is liberal education enough to get rid of prejudice?

Liberal education may or may not cure someone hellbent on antisemitism give up support for Nazism, for instance, but it certainly does improve the odds of minimizing that.

One way or the other, you would be shocked and surprised at how deep the roots of human prejudice go. It’s a huge challenge.

And is training for critical reasoning enough to get rid of our intrinsic, deeply embedded prejudice and biases? Even despite learning about all the logical fallacies, biases, and flaws?

 

Are we really free of prejudice when helping others escape it?

And do we really when we think that we have escaped it? Judging others for it?

 

So how deep are the roots of human prejudice?

Guess we’ll never know.

There are No Lies in the Battlefield

Courtesy: James Montgomery, acclaimimages.com

What is it about wars that thrill us? What is it that makes us feel so good, so proud, as if we have accomplished something. Is it the bravery, the chivalry, the defiance to death that men can display, or simply because it makes great stories to tell? It does not matter, because in our world it is a glorious thing to go to wars.

But war is an intellectual concept nevertheless. I have to acknowledge that fact. It is as intellectual as it is stupid and nonsense. This is why it is fought by people far away from action in the battlefield. You know, far away from those mindless soldiers, who are brainwashed the moment they land into Boot Camp. They are fed lies, and they are fed truths. But one thing is for sure. They take away from them a part of humanity and they get to earn a part of it that no one else would ever know about.

But even more cruel are the ones who do not even set foot on the battlefield and expect others to sacrifice themselves for them. The one who dodges the bullet, the one who bears the wounds and the one who witnesses the horrors of war can only know what war is like and how vain national glory means when you only have your life to lose, unless they are hardened by war and it becomes their way of living. Some do it by choice and suffer, others are forced into it and made to suffer.

You would have heard about, if not watched, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), based on the novel of the same title by German veteran Erich Maria Remarque. It is just a movie, maybe a touch too exaggerating and maybe overdone for some, but it tells the story of men who lived through World War I, an overdone war after all,  if it is not too much to say. The film emphasizes this very idea more explicitly and deliberately than most of the others about the war that you would come across.

The film talks about sending the youth to the front lines for glory and their subsequent discovery of what war really is. The film was banned in the Nazi Germany for its anti-war content, which for no surprise was taken to be an attack on German nationalism. Rats were used to disperse audiences during the initial screening of the film in theaters. But let’s not take any sides here. To my mind, the American filmmakers have emphasized the human side of the war by choosing to tell the story of a non-allied nation.

How many politically motivated artists talk about the human side of the enemy soldier? Most of the war movies even have no faces for them, just silhouettes. The silhouette of the enemy.  There is no enemy soldier, just humans who agree to kill each other over something they are not even aware of. The film applies as much to France as it does to Germany. It applies as much to Britain, or any other allied nation. It applies to each and every nation of the world. It applies to humanity. The blood-thirsty humanity.

A Few Important Excerpts 

(Note: Right now, the complete movie is available on YouTube. However, I have only posted the excerpts in context of the post. It may or may not be accessible from different parts of the world.)

For those familiar with the history of World War I and Trench Warfare in the Western Front, are also familiar with the toll it took on men.  This film, also the novel, is about how a war changes a man, how a war destroys a man and how they are sent by civilization to die to lift their spirits. A remarkable motion picture for its time, it effectively portrays what a soldier goes through before, during and after war, whether an exaggerated portrayal or not. I think it really is a lot worse than this.

What I learned from this film and what shook me the most is this.

There are no Lies in the Battlefield.

But have we learned the lesson?

That’s why we are an intelligent species.

A Quarter of a Century Since Chernobyl

A quarter of a century has passed since the worst nuclear accident in history. On April 26, 1986, the Nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in the then USSR, exploded leaking nuclear radiation about a hundred times the Nuclear explosion at Hiroshima. I cannot think of anything more but to say that the day reminds us why we should be so proud of Nuclear technology. After all, it allows us to make great changes to the way things work naturally, something we consider a sign of human intelligence and intellect. And since it proves potentially dangerous and destructive to human life, this further affirms this notion.

It’s a pity that despite all our scientific advances, we turn to Nuclear Energy as a source of generation of power. Of course, Nuclear Technology is very safe. It rarely causes any casualties and how many accidents have we witnessed since the Chernobyl one? None. Until of course, a massive 9 magnitude earthquake hit the Japanese city of Fukushima on March 11, 2011, causing explosions in the Nuclear power plant in the city, resulting in the leakage of radioactive material to the extent that it is being compared to the Chernobyl incident.

One Nuclear accident caused by human error, the other by a natural disaster.

Either of that could happen at any time and at any Nuclear reactor in the world. We have been very lucky that this does not happen too often. But it very easily could. And we are dealing with Nuclear Radiation here. Its effects spread globally and do not remain confined to the borders of the country suffering such an accident. And let us not even talk about the effects of Nuclear Radiation from such accidents on life.

Even if we rule out the human error factor, or even the computer error part, in causing a Nuclear accident, as strict security measures have been taken in Nuclear plants the world over to prevent incidents such as Chernobyl (or so they tell us), the natural disaster risk factor would always remain there. We still have a long way to go when it comes to fighting the catastrophic effects of natural disasters, but we must not forget that the secondary disasters in their aftermath are usually a creation of our own.

Revisit Chernobyl after 25 years.

For The Effects of Chernobyl on the Wildlife After 25 Years, from National Geographic, Click here.

Not much use in generating power in a way which will not leave anyone who would need it in the first place.

Pretty short sighted for an intelligent species.