Updated: Dec 30, 2021
Prejudice does not only affect individuals or groups, it can pervade an entire culture and behaviours towards other cultures.
In fact, prejudice subtly undermines human relationships, sometimes in an abrupt way.
It is our prejudices and ideals that deprives us of the capacity and energy necessary to think, observe and thus discover for ourselves what lies behind the confusion, unhappiness, terror and violence that exists in us, human beings, and in the world.
Why, after millions of years of evolution man (and woman), that is us and the whole world, has become so violent, insensitive, destructive and support ever more advanced and devastating technological progress?
We all, as human beings, suffer.
There is anguish, uncertainty, loneliness; there is insecurity, jealousy, greed, envy, pain, and sometimes beauty and compassion, almost forgotten.
Sooner or later, however, it has been necessary to go deep in ourselves and understand who we are. Questions are always scary.
We usually prefer to avoid an introspective confrontation, and not take responsibility for who we are by usually blaming others and events that happens to us. Every choice made – or not made, what happens to us or we make it happen contributes to forming who we are.
We like to think that we are fully in control of our life but in reality we are influenced by every information filtered into the mind, much of it coming from experiences that happen outside our control.
Very often our actions are automatically guided by emotions. But what are emotions and thoughts?
We think according to our ability, energy, experience and knowledge that we have.
Others will think differently based on their experience and conditioning.
We have been programmed on the biological, physical, and also on the mental, intellectual level.
We’ve been taught to be catholics, protestants, racists, Italians, English and so on, to believe, to have faith, to follow rites and dogmas; to be nationalists, to make war and to be complicit in human crimes.
We’ve been educated to prejudice, to look at others with suspicion, sometimes with hatred, to the point of killing.
Wherever we are, we look for warning signs and we want to keep everyone at a distance. The other is dangerous, everything that is different from us frightens us.
But what is diversity if not wealth?
What is dialogue if not personal growth?
Are we able to self – observe ourselves?
Who are we?
The turning point is in our conscience. Human conscience is one, there is no conscience that is yours or mine. Whenever we find ourselves, whether we are miserable or wealthy people, whether we believe in God or something else, we discover that the need to believe, to have faith, is common to all of humanity.
When we realize that I and others are the same, that we are humanity, we have crossed the path of individualism, we have overcome the circle in which we exist as I and you, us and them.
Our consciousness also has a deeper aspect, which contains our fears.
We, as human beings have always lived in pain.
We have been taught to think about ourselves as individuals separate from everything else. Even religions have led us to think that we have a soul separate from all the others.
This is the crisis we are involved in today: we have been educated and we only learn from these programs.
So what is thought?
How does this activity of the mind work?
We all think, and thought can be expressed in words, in a gesture, in a look or in a movement of the body. Words serve us to communicate.
Thought is responsible for all kinds of cruelty: war’s brutalities, killings, terror, dropping of bombs, unhappiness, hatred.
Thought is also the creator of marvellous structures, enchanting poems, entrancing sounds; he is the architect of all technological development, of computers, with their extraordinary ability to learn and overcome man’s ability to think.
But what does it mean to think?
Thinking, as Jiddu Krishnamurti affirms, is an answer, a reaction of memory.
Without memory we would not be able to think.
Memory is imprinted in the brain as knowledge, which is the result of experience.This is the way our brain works: first there is experience.
Experience gives knowledge, so knowledge is stored in the brain giving rise to memory and thought comes from memory.
Based on what we think, we act. Based on what we think we are.
And from action we learn further. Thus the cycle begins again.
This becomes knowledge, and we repeat the same pattern over and over.
That’s how thinking moves. Thought has mechanical nature.
Thought says to itself: ‘I am free to function’.
But thought is never free, because it is based on knowledge, which is limited because it is part of time.
Time, knowledge, thought, action constitute the cycle in which we live.
Thought is limited; therefore any action performed by thought must be limited. But any limitation of thought inevitably creates division and conflict.
Human being is in conflict with himself. We all are.
Our life, from birth to death, is a series of attempts, of conflicts; and attempts to get out of this situation in turn generate other conflicts.
So we live and die in an endless conflict and never wonder what the root of that conflict is. This root is thought, because thought is limited.
Now, please don’t say, ‘How do I stop thinking?’ That’s not the point.
The point is to observe and understand the nature of thought.
What are our thoughts? Why are we afraid of the other? Are we free from fears, conditioning and prejudices?
While we cannot avoid all the things that happen to us, we can change, choose how to observe them and give them a different meaning.
Prejudices are the chains forged by ignorance to keep men apart.
We can begin to observe ourselves, accept us as unique, free and imperfect human beings.
The question I ask myself is: are we human?
from the project "The Theatre of the Mind"
© Loredana Denicola 2016-2020
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