Rack is the Co-Founder of Beyond Civility and the retired Chief Circuit Mediator at the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
My late ex-father in law, Bob inherited a WASPish worldview from his father. He claimed he didn’t like Catholics, Jews, Blacks…pretty much anyone not White, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant.
One Christmas dinner he looked over his warmly assembled family and shook his head in amazement. His four children surrounded him, three now with significant others: His eldest, a summa cum laude college graduate with me, her Catholic husband; his only son, a high school football star and Air Force Academy graduate, home from Korea with his new Buddhist Korean bride; his second eldest daughter, an athlete and soon-to-be college graduate (with honors) and her Socialist and probably atheist Italian boyfriend. Every one was hard working, loving and devoted to family, Bob’s principle values.
I watched him wrestle with the conflict between what he was taught to believe and the truth he had come to feel until the affection he felt for and from all of us finally won. And I think he was grateful…for us, and to be relieved of the bigotry that never really suited him anyway.
The antidote to divisive biases and prejudice can’t be more segregation and self-justifying blaming. It must lie in more engagement, in relationships that can bring us face to face with felt truths that displace stereotypes, erode implicit biases and override prejudices.
Unfortunately, sociological evidence suggests we’re doing the opposite. Increasingly, we’re marrying, living around and socializing only with like-minded people.
I know I do.