Chaplain’s thought for the week
Revd Tom considers the need to challenge prejudice
I’ve been talking to some of our pupils about prejudice in Chapel this week. The word ‘prejudice’ has the meaning of ‘judging before’ and I spoke with pupils about the fact that it occurs when we form an unfavourable opinion or feeling about a person, or a group of people, without knowing the full story.
We considered the story of Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman and how he challenged two kinds of prejudice in doing so: racism (Jews didn’t mix with Samaritans in those days) and sexism (at that time a respected Rabbi should not be talking alone with a woman, especially one with a shady past). Sadly, two thousand years on we’re still dealing with both of these issues – and a whole host of others: prejudices based on age, sexuality, religion, class, disability, and gender, to name just a few.
Thinking about prejudice is not very comfortable. It’s a horrible thought that we could be guilty of it. Perhaps we’re not guilty of one of the most obvious forms of prejudice – the kind that has an ‘ism’ on the end – but it can often be more subtle. We can all write people off before we know them; we can all dismiss people too easily; we can all form views based on how others look.
Prejudice is wrong because every one us is precious and valuable – and I believe that each of us is a unique creation made by God. My hope is that our pupils know this about others, but also about themselves. We are all equal regardless of our gender, our sexual orientation, our ethnicity, our abilities, our religion, or our age. This is why it is worth challenging prejudice, especially the kind which creeps inside us without us knowing it. As Desmond Tutu says, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”