Prejudice is everywhere. We see it in the news. We see it in our families.
Some of us are more aware of prejudice than others. People of color. Differently-abled people.
When we think of the power of prejudice, we tend to think of its destructive power.
Let’s face it, prejudice has created some serious mischief in this world.
But what about the positive power of prejudice? How come no one ever talks about that?
For anyone who regularly reads this blog, you know I’m not about to break into a rant about the upside of being a white supremacist. Or why we should kick all left-handed people out of the country and send them back to Lefthandia.
What I want to talk about today is my own experience with the positive power of prejudice.
For the first part of my life, I didn’t have to contend with much prejudice. I was raised in a white, middle-class family. In the United States. I had all kinds of privileges I was only vaguely aware of.
Then I came out as gay. In the 1980’s.
Suddenly I was getting called a dyke by perfect strangers. Suddenly I was dealing with my own internalized homophobia.
Prejudice was alive and kicking, within and around me.
Things got even more interesting when I embraced my androgynous gender expression and changed my name to Z.
Now there were stares when I went out in the world. Now there were people who were unfriendly to me and I found myself wondering whether it was because of what I looked like, or because they were just jerks unfriendly to everyone.
I know it’s all relative. I can talk about my experience with prejudice, and an African-American differently-abled lesbian who grew up in the South can talk about a whole different level of discrimination.
I can only speak from my experience.
One time, I went to a weekend spiritual retreat. At the end of the retreat, in an exercise about forgiveness, the leader of my group asked me to forgive her for not liking me because of what I look like.
Thing is, I had no idea she was harboring those judgments.
I thought I could tell who the haters were by how they looked at me. After this woman’s confession, I realized that I had absolutely no clue about who was judging me and who wasn’t.
In that moment, I realized I had a choice.
I could move through the world with bitterness about people’s judgments of me.
Or I could move through the world with kindness.
I was inspired to write this post after a recent interaction with someone who was reacting to me in a manner that made me think he had some judgments about me.
I have no idea if he did or didn’t. But it seemed like maybe he did.
Throughout the interaction, I did what I always do with people who seem to be judging me.
I treated him with extra kindness.
I was seriously friendly.
I smiled. I stood in a place of love for who I am, while at the same time blasting him with love for who he is.
By the time the interaction was over, I felt him soften.
Was it because of my invisible love blast? Maybe.
But then, as I walked away, I started to go into victim mode:
How come I always have to go the extra mile and be so frickin’ friendly to people so they won’t judge me?
The minute this thought went through my head, I realized what I was saying.
Because of my particular life circumstances – in this case, my gender expression – I have adopted a habit of being extra friendly to people.
And what’s wrong with that?!
I’ve become a Love Blaster in reaction to prejudice.
Other people’s prejudice has served as a delivery system for Love Blasting.
Yes, there’s a time to stand up against prejudice and do something about it. I’m not discounting that.
But one of the most powerful things we can do is Love.
No matter who we’re dealing with. And no matter what they may think of us.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a Love Blaster. Here’s what he had to say about it:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
What’s your experience with Love Blasting in the face of discrimination – or any challenging experience? Share your comments below!