The online matchmaking site Okcupid ran a survey of its members. Google [Okcupid Race and Attraction]. When they first started looking at first-contact attempts and who was writing who back, they say it was immediately obvious that the sender’s race was a huge factor. That offers some proof to what has long been obvious to me: Homo sapiens are naturally racist. However, what does racism truly mean? Certainly, emotional bias is obviously the deep driving force at racism’s core.
Simply put, emotional bias is to racism as fear is to worry. Fear + thought = worry (1) and emotional bias + thought = racism (bigotry, prejudice, narrow-mindedness). Yet, fear and emotional bias are vital pillars of biology. So, what’s the problem? Thought is the straw that breaks the camels back here.
I know I am emotionally biased in numerous ways, although not vis-à-vis race. My biases arise over politics, religion, work ethic, diet, to name a few. Our biases are merely channels for our innate visceral insecurity (fear) to play out. No matter what form one’s emotional bias takes, one common denominator is the hierarchical advantage with which such biases reward us (2). “I” am better than “them” because I am ___(fill in the blank)___. The list is as endless as the matters upon which we place value. That we place such high value on certain matters is proportional to our self-insecurity. The ‘lower’ one feels, the more one hungers for a ‘higher’ position. Thus, when we put “them” down, that automatically promises to raise our self-esteem. Naturally, this superficial and vicarious elevation is fleeting, for it is not a genuine security of being.
Ignorance is ignorant of its own ignorance
A racist, (bigot, prejudiced person) doesn’t know they are such. We are ignorant of our own ignorance. That is the disease to which chapter 71 alludes… Realizing I don’t know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease. Thought, and its cohort belief, pushes instincts to extremes by locking emotional bias into memory.
There is an ironic and somewhat paradoxical side to this. If you know you are prejudiced in a particular way (racist, or whatever) you are not genuinely prejudiced. You are able to recognize that emotional bias is an integral aspect of your biology, while the resultant thoughts are disease. That awareness helps defuse biased thoughts and impulses. When ignorance is aware of its ignorance, ignorance is much less blinding, i.e., Realizing I don’t know is better.
This cognitive disease that chapter 71 refers to is unique to humans, as far as I know. Knowing the constant is our protection from the misdirection that thinking and knowledge cause. Chapter 16 hints at this:
…Returning to the root cause is called stillness, this means answering to one’s destiny;
Answering to one’s destiny is called the constant, knowing the constant is called honest.
Not knowing the constant, rash actions lead to ominous results.
Knowing the constant allows, allowing therefore impartial…,
What is this constant of which we must be mindful? I see a few clues. First, biology offers a clear step toward returning to the root cause. Biology is obviously a major constant for any species. Mind you, the constant also alludes to that which is beyond all words and definition. Even so, the constant of biology helps transcend the culturally programmed biased “knowledge” that we all inherit from childhood.
When I realize any aspect of my thoughts or knowledge are not impartial, I know my thinking is still biased. Knowing that, I can dig deeper until I see the impartial whole. Still, thinking and feeling are truly separate issues. Animals only feel, we do both. Feeling attraction to one’s race is natural, as that survey suggests. As they say, “Birds of a feather flock together”, and that also means whatever common purposes and interests we flock around with together. The problem, the disease, arises when feeling drives our thoughts, and we believe our thoughts accurately reflect reality.
More broadly, doesn’t this all come down to the dynamics of attraction (need) and aversion (fear). These forces are the workhorse of life itself, from protozoa to presidents. Our thoughts simply reflect what we need and fear in life. Yet, this subjective bias blinds us and we end up believing we are perceiving life objectively.
Try some rigorous hair splitting
The Correlation process (p.565) helps uncover the underlying forces at work in one’s cognition. This process only works by challenging one’s biases and preconceptions. The hitch: we mostly seek confirmation of our biases rather than a challenge to them. We hang on to our biases because they shore up our illusionary sense of self as Buddha’s pointed out: “The illusion of self originates and manifests itself in a cleaving to things”, and biases are among our most precious “things”.
There is a side issue here. The thinking that drives perceptions in one direction must have an antithesis in order to maintain the illusion of difference. Contrast is the name of this game. Conversely, duality vanishes in the stillness of true impartiality. This is called profound sameness, as chapter 56 puts it. Does this mean it is all a figment of our imagination? Hmm… ?
(1) Also, Need + thought = desire, expectations. Similarly, need is a vital pillar of biology for all living creatures. Here again, thought is the straw that breaks the camels back.
(2) I traveled the world over, North to South, East to West, for 15 years (See: The Further One Goes , [Biographical Notes p.xii ]). I found some form of racism everywhere, aimed at “the other”. I’m afraid it is biological. Of course, civilized society must, and will, push itself to minimize the effects of this. Nevertheless, it helps to be realistic in one’s expectations, even as one pushes to improve.