In writing to this prompt a few weeks ago, I discovered something I’d never considered; namely, that it’s a slippery slope from preferring something to become prejudiced against its opposite. Let me offer an example.
I much prefer tennis to pickleball. But what is it that I prefer? Playing? Watching? Play on a court marked only for tennis instead of adjusting to playing on a court with lines for both sports? And how do I know I might not one day prefer pickleball since I’ve never even played it? And truth be told, I’ve never watched more than a few minutes of a pickleball game in motion, either singles or doubles.
This question of preferences got me thinking about prejudices. And wondering what role one’s past life experience(s) plays as arbiter(s) of one over the other? After all, it could be argued that our earliest experiences strongly influence our preferences one way or another, even in some cases for a lifetime. These same understandings we learn early in life may be inculcating prejudices we’re not even aware of until or unless later on, we decide to question them and in some instances to reject them from that point forward. Sometimes a decision to shake off our habituated prejudices results in dramatic, life-altering consequences.
Back to tennis. Since I’ve had so many positive experiences in my life from a very young age both watching and playing tennis, it would be a tough sell to find myself preferring pickleball over it. But even that declaration sounds dangerously close to a prejudice, doesn’t it?
From our youngest days our experiences often influence our preferences, sometimes for the rest of our lives. And they may even introduce prejudices we may not even be aware; that is, until or unless someday later in life we decide to question them, maybe even to reject them. Sometimes those decisions to shake off the prejudices we’ve learned as youngsters have dramatic, life-altering, positive consequences.
I invite you to choose one of your preferences and examine it with that slippery slope toward prejudice in mind.