Posted in In my humble opinion..., Nature Knowledge, Sideshows

Ignorance Perpetuates Prejudice

crow (Photo credit: crowdive)

There’s so much outrage these days. Something has stirred up our emotions and I’m at a loss to find one single cause. The overall theme of this simmering pot is misunderstanding with a big helping of mistrust on top. The visible combatants, via our sensationlizing media, in these divisions are claiming the ability to divine the intent of anyone who has a differing opinion. The core element to the outrage seems to be a misguided philosophy that assumes, those who differ, do so from a purely mean-spirited inspiration.

I’d like to offer a true story that helped me to realize that most prejudice comes from ignorance not an evil agenda.
A few years ago, I witnessed one of Nature’s violent “goings on”. I was alerted to a “bird battle” in my back yard by dozens of squawking crows. As I watched the commotion, there was a flailing of wings and seeming screams coming from a gang of large birds on my lawn. One red-tailed hawk emerged from that pile, and flew off, followed by more crows than I could count. My curiosity brought me straight to the, now abandoned, crime scene to discover three dead fledglings on the ground. My human heart was saddened but I returned to my daily routine.
A few hours later, my neighbor had taken up the task of burying the victims and joined me at my doorstep with his tale of the tragedy .
Before I tell you about his understanding of the bird “murders”, I’d like to point out that most people have a small knowledge of birds, and Nature in general. In fact, until my curiosity of natural things had awakened, I was among those folks who could identify only Robins, Crows, Blue Jays and the, occasional, Cardinal. These birds are of the highly visible type that most people come to know. With that commonness , there also comes wide-spread folk-lore about them. Blue Jays are brash and bossy, Robins are sweet, Cardinals are special and Crows are murderers. In fact, a group of crows is referred to as a “murder of crows”. (In defense of crows, they are actually primarily scavengers and highly intelligent to boot. I’m sure, the common place sightings of these fellows eating carrion was the impetus of the “killer” label.)

Now, back to the story:
My kind neighbor broke into a tale of murderous crows who attacked a red-tailed hawk nest, leaving baby hawks littered in our shared yard. It was true that we witnessed the same event but ignorance was there too.

I proceeded to tell him my version. The dead babies were crows. I showed him the straight beak of one of “the fallen”. It was easy to understand his confusion though. Crows are big birds and are about the size of many hawks. The dead babies were very close to leaving the nest, therefore, they were almost full-sized.
My tale continued with the murderous intent shifted to the hawk. By the time I had finished, his sympathy had done a one-eighty. My tale ended with an admiration for the community and brotherhood which had brought so many crows, out of nowhere, to aid in the rescue attempt.

So you see, my neighbor was not being mean-spirited in his inaccuracy. It was his ignorance that perpetuated the prejudice.

I’m hoping this story, inspires you to take a moment to explain yourself when someone has a different opinion and refrain from judging others as mean-spirited. Overall, the most important message, here, is to stay informed and curious.

Posted in Sideshows

The Sweet Spoils of Outrage

I am very close to being outraged.

The act of outrage…yes, act is what it is most often…is an outrageously common occurrence.

In the area of human nature, there is a no more uncluttered petri dish than a child day care. I observe the most elemental parts of the human psyche daily.

Today, I foolishly engaged in a debate with a person who posted his own political commentary with his primary source, The Huffington Post.  (Stop groaning…I know who you are!)
I am a conservative leaning person. I am a republican. I’ve been told that I am naive, but I believe all political factions want what’s best for our country.

Disclaimers made, my interaction with this fellow American, who started his statements “You right-wingers…”,  was quite interesting. His “outrage” was over the current Rush Limbaugh controversy. (Ever realize how everything is either a controversy or crisis these days?)

I told him that I’d prefer that each individual decided to listen to him or not. I also said that I hadn’t listened to him in 2 years because I had decided he was a sexist creep. My biggest problem with this “liberal leaning” fellow’s opinion  was his inference that Limbaugh-Gate was the biggest problem our nation faces and that until he was proverbially “hung from a yardarm” our nation could not carry on its business.

My own comment follows:

I prefer that people use their own judgement. I stopped listening to Rush 2 years ago after a very sexist,and insensitive comment let me know he was a creep.
It always worries me when the “outraged” people want to draw their own line on what is acceptable in the face of free speech. I believe there is an underlying assumption that “outraged people” know what’s best for the masses. That thinking is distasteful to me. ♥

He retorted another text about those who divide us.


Starting an informative dialog with “You right-wingers” apparently missed his divisive meter.

Now for the child’s tantrum which made this post happen:

Sally got off of the preschool bus and came into my kitchen as my “all dayers” were finishing some hot chocolate. She very rudely demanded hot chocolate and was told, not now, lunch was approaching and besides, she had not asked politely.

Sally started crying and was ignored. Sally left the room and began screaming. “The dog is eating my bear toy! {tears…deep breathed growls…screeches}STOP HIM!”

I entered the room as the dog walked away from the bear. I was unsure if he ever touched it.

Sally’s screams of outrage continued. “It’s ruined! I’m telling my mom! Can I HAVE hot chocolate?!!!”

BINGO! The sweet spoils of outrage!

What does outrage do for us?

  • changes the subject
  • gets immediate full attention
  • gives us an opportunity to sneak our agenda into consideration.

From the example of babes, I now get the full picture.

From here on, I’m going to avoid the habitually outraged in order to talk with adults.