Several articles that I have read recently, both online and in print, have made me reflect on bigotry. Bigotry I think begins with not questioning the prejudices one may have grown up with, which then harden over time into intolerance of the ‘other’ and then into hatred of the ‘other’—bigotry.
During hard times, like what is happening at present, I think intolerance of the ‘other’ increases. When there is worry all around, the easiest way is to find somebody else to blame and so it becomes easy to become intolerant of the other. And then unfortunately, we become targets of wily politicians, who use the basic fear of the unknown ‘other’, which is at the back of this bigotry.
But intolerance and bigotry lie at both ends of the spectrum. Whether one is a religious fundamentalist or a left-wing ideologue, (or somewhere in between), if we cannot accept that someone can have a view different from ours, we are on the road to bigotry and then when we reach a point of being intolerant of the other view, we are well on the way to becoming bigots. We have every right not to listen to points of view that we dislike, as long as we do not deny—in our minds firstly—the right of that other person to have his own view, however misguided we hold that view to be.
I think that if one does not want to become a bigot, one must address one’s own fears of the unknown, the ‘other’ and often on a daily basis, during tough times. This holds good from thinking that one’s househelp might steal because they are in need or are from a ‘particular’ caste or region, to the thinking that somebody who believes in the Almighty in a different way to mine, is more intolerant than me. I have been sadly watching the build-up of bigotry on all sides of the spectrum and felt the need to address these issues in myself. Hence this post.