The black tar-macadam path and handmade palisade fence run to either side of a small grassy dip. This hollow is home to a rounded pond ringed with small mature trees. Strong sunlight casts bands of shaded tree trunk across its mirrored plane. Only tiny ripples, stirred by an invisible wind, mark the shiny surface. In this little pond, blue sky and white cloud live among trees and grass.
Your Healing From Prejudice
In the little pond that is our life, why do we live with prejudice? We judge others because they are different and we fear that difference.
Prejudice is based on fear.
The truth is that others are no different from ourselves in their essential nature, because we all share the same humanity. The difference that we imagine exists is created in the mind. We create these differences because our mind is full of fear.
We fear our common humanity. To embrace our common humanity is to admit that we share that person's poverty, we share this person's disability, we are open to marrying that black person or white person, we share this person's pain and that we share this person's terminal illness. Prejudice is a means we use to keep people we fear at a distance. Prejudice runs counter to love. We need to learn to love those we hold at a distance, especially if we imagine that they are controlling and imprisoning us.
I used to be prejudiced against poor people and people with disabilities. I was frightened of being poor and disabled. In 1979, when I was just 24, I was at architecture school. I had my life mapped out. I was going to be a rich and famous architect.
My studies were going well and everything was on target. Then I was given the devastating news that I had schizophrenia. I struggled on with the condition for several more years, eventually completing my studies, but in the end it got the upper hand and I became disabled by it. (See Your Calling Needs to Be Trusted and Your Healing From Adversity). Then, because I was disabled and unable to work, I became poor as well. My worst nightmare had come true. I had become poor and disabled myself.
What did I feel when I admitted the truth, that I was poor and disabled and there might be no escape? Fear. I was feeling pure unadulterated fear. I was terrified. All my dreams, all the plans I had for my life had evaporated.
Eventually as time passed I came to accept my condition. Then after more time passed I came to learn from it and to improve. Eventually I came to see having schizophrenia as an advantage! It had taught me so much. By accepting my condition not partially but fully, something powerful began to happen. I not only learned to live with it and improve but I lost my fear of disability and poverty in both others and myself. I lost my prejudices.
I also learnt that there is beauty in disability. When we are disabled we do not have it in our power to do what we please. Therefore we are more open to help. We discover a beautiful, quiet place within, like a still, pure tree-bound lake, where we become more receptive to our calling. We identify with other people who are disabled and disadvantaged and we reach out to help. We become more loving.
I learnt that there is wealth in poverty. Poor people often share more. They know what it is like to be without and are more inclined to happily share what they have. This not only creates wealth but also helps build friendships. There is dignity in poverty. I learnt that the most crippling kind of poverty has nothing to do with material wealth, but comes from a poverty of love. I found love in abundance when I was poor.
Eventually as time passed I lost most of my prejudices. I felt a freedom and openness I had never known. There were few barriers. Now everybody was my friend. I shared a common humanity with the world.
At Glencraig, where I do my voluntary work, there are many village residents who have been born with brain damage or are mentally handicapped in some way. They are the most loving of people and they communicate in whatever way comes naturally to them, be it sign language or by repeating a few often used words or sentences.
I feel very at home with the villagers of Glencaig. I communicate with them in simple ways we can both share. Being with them expands my repertoire of free expression. I feel liberated. If I had visited Glencaig before I had schizophrenia and before I was freed from my prejudices, then on meeting the villagers I would have cringed with embarrassment and looked for somewhere to hide.
We can lose our prejudices. Inner guidance will help us do this. Our calling increasingly guides us to draw close to those who are disabled and disadvantaged.
As we follow our potential our radiant inner swan draws us to befriend the downtrodden, diseased and disabled. These friendships bring great riches. By encouraging us to reach out to those who are different, the call heals us of our prejudices.
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