Is it human nature to be racist, bigoted, self centered, and/or narrow minded?
I think all the great religions teach us to overcome these tendencies, even though in many instances all have done much to maintain them.
Historically there have always been groups of people that were considered outside of our circle of trust and acceptance. They could even be considered somewhat less than human---or in some other way "beneath" us. How else could we rationalize treating them the way we did and do? In some cases they were called slaves or servants---but the point is not so much what we called them, but that there was someone there to hold down to give us a feeling of superiority. They were people we could get to do all the stuff we were too proud to do ourselves.
Of course having lots of money encoraged one and maintained the other.
I think whenever we speak of “groups of people,” that are culturally defined by the color of their skin, country of origin, religion or any other “defining terms,” we have to be very careful not to conclude those definitions “necessarily mean something.”
Almost daily on this forum I hear people speak about the damage being done to the financial well-being of these United States by “this or that country,” or “this or that group of people." Having been a builder and employer for over 30 years, I have a lot of experience with hiring workers from a wide range of backgrounds. While the vast majority would likely be defined as white Anglo-American, there were also many that were recent immigrants as well. While I have to be careful not to jump to “conclusions” that are not equally racist, bigoted, self-centered and/or narrow minded, I can attest to the VERY hard working nature of the folks that I employed that were not born in this country---even with severe language barriers at times.
I do not have to “think” about whether they were different from my US born-and-raised employees---it was painfully obvious. Sure I had some of the best and brightest employees one could ever want. Employees that even went on to their own businesses and successes---but these were the exceptions. In terms of a work ethic, the foreign born could be counted on from day to day to day. There were proportionally fewer exceptions to the rule among my foreign born employees---they were exceptionally industrious, eager to learn---and perhaps most important---willing to learn. And I might add, never late to work. While my experience was a very small sample, I know of several other builders that would echo this sentiment.
It distresses me greatly when I read comments on this forum that attempt to paint these folks with a broad brush that makes them seem something they are not---that they are in some way responsible for all the “shoddy anything” that happens in our country. This has been far from my experience. We are all immigrants here. My family has likely been here longer than most of my reader's families, getting off the boat in 1632, and I still see myself as an immigrant.
The reality is that we are all on this great space ship called Earth together, and like it or not we are all likely to survive as a species relying on each other---as opposed to excluding each other.
Contrary to the widespread belief that excluded and marginalized groups are a big problem, I think they are instead a huge part of the solution to problems that face us all. I also think that if all of these “undesirables” were to all go “home” tomorrow (as some people would like to see happen) this country truly would be in serious trouble. The movie “A day without Mexicans,” is probably pretty accurate as to the possibilities around that scenario.
People are just people---there are hard workers and good workers of all religions, races and nationalities---just like there are lazy bums of all relligions, races and nationalities. We should each be judged by who we each are---not all thrown in some meaningless barrel meant to make ourselves feel better about our collective racism and bigotry.
So while it may be human nature to be racist, bigoted, self-centered and/or narrow minded, we can rise above it---if only intellectually at first.
This truly is the spirit of the season.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board