It is most difficult to see the walls inside ourselves, which we have imperceptibly erected over time—most often in the name of our survival in difficult situations
Explaining tolerance to others is always easy. It is even easier to rebuke people whose behavior shows discriminatory principles and attitudes. The difficulty comes when we realize that we ourselves are prejudiced against other people. And it’s even harder when we find out in a conversation with a friend.
Twenty-three-year-old student Milena is forced to raise her niece on her own. The little girl’s parents went abroad to Greece and did not return to Sofia for more than a year.
After a tiring evening in the cafe where Milena works part-time, the two sit down to have a dinner.
“Auntie,” the girl says at the table, “I was at my third basketball practice at school today.” There are at least three or four lesbians in the team. I’m sure! They look at me a lot while I’m changing my clothes, is that okay?
“Oh, that too on top of all,” our heroine thinks.—“I study, I work, I look after the little one, and now I have to deal with lesbians. What if she becomes one, what will I do with her?”
The answer to such a question is very simple: the same thing you have done so far. The heroine in our story is understandably tense by the general stress in which her daily life puts her. It is not her fault that so many things have accumulated on her head, but she must not forget that she continues to be responsible for the development of her niece.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you better not respond immediately. It is possible to say something that you will later regret. If homophobic and other negative qualifications come to your mind, you better not share them. Keep them to yourself and see how things turn out. At this time, you can do the following to deal with your prejudices:
Seek opinion and advice. Seek help from relatives to help you fight prejudice. Families who help each other in such situations are often healthier and more cohesive.
Make a commitment to learn more. Education, influence and proper awareness are key factors in changing the way we think. Create such an environment for yourself.
Be consistent. Choose a date from the calendar—a few weeks or months from that day—and mark it. When that day comes, think about everything you have learned and how you have changed. Don’t forget to evaluate what else you can achieve. Seek someone else’s opinion about your behavior—it is a mirror of our thoughts, beliefs and prejudices in the outside world.