Updated: Sep 1, 2022
The vast majority of people are kind, caring and compassionate - despite even knowing they are.
They are decent, law-abiding citizens who wake up in the morning with good intentions, even if those intentions are no more than to cause no harm and be left to get on with their lives.
I can identify with this. I may not go out of my way to heal the world as such, but I certainly do not want to harm anyone.
Whenever I have offended someone - and I have - I would always look to apologise and hope the recipient of my unintentional mis-speak could be forgiven. More often than not it is, for which I am grateful.
This is just the normal standard of play for most people, and whilst I am a huge advocate of people’s freedom of thought, I do, however, believe there ought to be a level of respect in the manner in which we express ourselves, even when we think the other person is grossly wrong.
Because the only way to change someone’s mind is to engage with the other person without putting them on the defensive, and going in with an open-mind.
And it is this last part, an open mind, that separates us from bigotry.
Many people are of the belief that a bigot is someone who holds racist, homophobic or sexist views, and they would be correct. But bigotry is not restricted to these areas.
The actual meaning refers to anyone who is closed-minded, who clings unreasonably to their beliefs without any give. And who is antagonistic towards a person or group because of those beliefs.
I have most certainly been bigoted in this sense. I have held onto beliefs that I felt entirely right and bulldozed my beliefs upon others at times.
I have looked at people that are anti-LGBTQ+, anti-women, and people who belong to certain political parties in a way that was indeed prejudiced and judgmental.
Despite my beliefs being what I felt were morally right, unless I remained open-minded and willing to explore other people’s reasoning and rationale, I am, as disconcerting and insulting as it sounds, a bigot when I behave like this.
The result of my unintentional and unknowing bigotry did not really affect too many people as I didn’t voice my views too much.
I didn’t post on social media until my entrance as a wannabe politician, and though I have always had political conversations for as long as I can remember, they were only between friends and family.
But the journey I wish for myself and Confelicity to take does require publication of mine and our views.
And what an ugly minefield of bigoted people we have found!
Most surprisingly it has come from those people in society who you would otherwise think of as good, given the moral righteousness of the groups from which they associate.
Whilst the majority stay out of the mess, there are a very loud minority who are indeed screaming blue murder at the very hint of disagreement. And whilst they might well be right, and for arguments sake let’s assume that they are, the manner of their approach is hostile, intolerant, full of hate and, yes, bigoted.
Victims of our environment
The problem here is that all of our views are shaped by the world around us, which means it is very difficult to extricate ourselves from our own beliefs. We can be so unaware of our beliefs because we know nothing else.
Furthermore, our beliefs can be directly associated with our identity and in cases where eyes have been opened, a person can be left to feel almost empty, purposeless and confused.
So when a person has come to views that to most seem unpalatable, we must try to understand that they have been exposed to a particular environment where they didn’t even realise their views where perceived as extreme. They are in fact victims. And we, ourselves, can also be that victim.
There is no such thing as right or wrong, only the small group of people that control the resources who create that illusion know that. Yes, we have control over what we choose as right and wrong, but the boundaries of choice have already been set up. We choose between what they have provided.
I happen to eat vegan-only food. I do believe that animals have as much right to live as humans do, and in this day there are all the reasons to stop it. That is my opinion and I have a right to express it, discuss it and engage with other people if I wish. But where I become a bigot is when I stop listening to other opinions, refuse to even speak to them, castigate them at every opportunity and seek to alienate that person from society.
Good people with good intentions acting as bigots
This is happening now. It is coming from people who I think would consider themselves good. And this is where it is so dangerous as they enter into their crusade.
Some people in minority groups who have managed to shape the public mind are now over-stepping. They have categorised all people with one particular view into one group and given them hell by attacking, belittling, ostracising and humiliating them into submission with their aggression. As hard as it is to admit, anyone who thinks and acts in this way is by definition a bigot.
I still fall foul of bigotry, but I am more aware and am willing to hold my hands up and admit it. In fact the only thing preventing me from being a bigot here is the fact that I remain open-minded and ready to engage and willing to accept I might be wrong in this article!
What to do?
We can continue as we are but then we should question what we really want out of all this. Disharmony, chaos and hatred or peace, safety and happiness?
So as we attempt to take on our generation's discourse our approach to each other would benefit from a sympathetic base where patience, understanding, empathy and open-mindedness are at the forefront of our mindset.
I believe it is incumbent on those who have intentions to shape our philosophical and social environment to be responsible with their words and always leave the door open for those that may be considered a bigot themselves.
And so, who is the bigot?...
The person who holds strong opinions largely accepted by society but is unwilling to listen to others, puts them in boxes and proceeds to attack them, or the person who holds strong views that are unpopular, but is still willing to listen to others?
It is hard to listen to others that you are certain are wrong, but it is the dissenting voices that sharpen the reason. Either it turns out you were wrong; forces you to find more evidence to back up your point; or adds new paths of thought.
And if the good people with good intentions were to listen, remain open-minded, and were tolerant, patient and forgiving, they might then act in a manner that would indeed be considered good.