The online matchmaking site Okcupid ran a survey of its members. 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. If nothing else, race provides the simplest way for our innate tribal instinct to play itself out. Idealism and political correctness just inhibit us from seeing ourselves honestly. Alas, without self-honesty, how can we ever manage life better than we currently do?
If I’m completely honest, I must admit I am racist—and naturally so. However, perhaps not in the usual sense, but then who really is? Racism is often regarded as being anti someone. This is bigotry (bias, prejudice, narrow-mindedness), but is racism always bigotry? What is the difference?
Simply put, racism is to bigotry as need is to desire(1). Need + thought = desire and racism + thought = bigotry. That probably seems like I’m splitting hairs; after all, the dictionary sees them practically synonymous. However, broad understanding ironically requires some rigorous hair splitting.
The thinking pushes natural instincts to extremes which results in unintended consequences; natural ‘racism’ ends in bigotry. Chapter 71 cautions us…
This ‘thinking disease’ is unique to humans (as far as I know). Knowing the constant is our only protection from the misdirection that thinking and ‘knowledge’ often 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…,
The only problem is, just what is the 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, I don’t mean to limit the constant just to biology. The constant can also allude to that which is completely beyond words and definition. Still, biology helps transcend the long-term culturally programmed biases that we all emerge with as we leave childhood.
If, in my thinking, I come away with any ‘knowledge’ that is less than impartial, I know my thinking is still bigoted, biased, prejudiced, partisan, narrow-minded, unfair. This is where racism can part company with bigotry. Feeling attraction to one’s ‘race’ is natural, as that survey suggests. Moreover, ‘race’ is much more than just ethnic origin. As they say, ‘birds of a feather flock together’, and that really means whatever common purposes and common interests we flock around with together.
More broadly, doesn’t this all come down to the dynamics of attraction and aversion? These forces are the workhorse of life itself, from protozoa to presidents. The only significant difference lies in the thinking we engage in, without truly realizing thought’s inherent danger. You could say we are intoxicated by thought, and can’t see its double edge nature. Our view of life naturally reflects what we need and fear in life. Yet, we don’t see this subjective bias; rather we believe we are seeing things as they are objectively. The closest we can ever get to objectivity occurs when we do not care which side wins the day. That is tough if you truly do care in the largest sense of the word — if you are aware.
Try some rigorous hair splitting
The correlation process is the most effective method I’ve found to get to the bottom of things, cognitively speaking. True, time and experience are better, but they require one’s whole lifetime to play out. Naturally, the correlation process also has its drawbacks. I suspect it lacks appeal because this process only works if you allow it to challenge your biases and preconceptions. Alas, we mostly seek confirmation of our biases rather than challenges to them, especially if that provokes us to abandon them! We hang on to our biases tenaciously because they maintain our illusionary sense of self. As Buddha’s 2nd Noble Truth points out: “The illusion of self originates and manifests itself in a cleaving to things“, and biases are some of our most precious ‘things’.
I considered using correlations here in this post to probe the race issue more fully. Fortunately, I am sober enough now— time and experience—to accept how futile this could be. The only way to probe deeper through correlations is to experience the correlation process personally, subjectively. Therefore, I turn this over to you. Click a link! 😉
(1) There is a side issue here. Cognition may well lie at the heart of the ‘there are two sides to the coin‘ aspect to life, at least as it pertains to human suffering. Thinking drives perceptions in one direction, which needs to have the antithesis to maintain the illusion of difference. In stillness, silence, and profound sameness, there is no perceptible duality. Does this mean it is all a figment of our imagination? Hmm… ?