The Music of Kelly Van Shaar

The Importance of Prejudice ~ 2012-09-30

Value judgements; we all make them every day. "What's the best kind of car to get? Who will be the best little league coach? Who will be the best employee? Should I trust this salesman? Should I date or marry this person? How should I discipline my kids? Should I listen to my parents? Should I eat this?"


As we go about our lives making decisions based on the values we hold, we hear some occasional complaining from people who say we are being prejudiced. This or that group doesn't feel enough acceptance and wants us to modify our value systems to include them. It seems they need us to validate them or they just won't be able to go on living with themselves. If only that was all that was at stake.


The values each of us hold change with our life experiences and circumstances. They begin with the simple lessons we are taught as children and grow with us. Everything we hear, see, read and feel has the potential to affect our individual value systems. Some of us inherit a strong value system from our parents and family. Some of us are taught a structured value system by a religion. Some of us learn our values at school or at work or from popular media. And everybody has learned at least a few lessons in the school of hard knocks.


Our personal values go far beyond anything we have gleaned from one particular source. The most religious person in the world will still have some values he or she picked up from a good school teacher, a casual conversation with a stranger or a random internet post.


Because our values are based on our unique life experiences, they are a reflection of our unique personalities, and in spite of all the whining from this special interest group or that oppressed minority, when it comes to making important decisions, we each turn to our own value systems. We can make all the legislation we want that pretends to force people to be "fair" by some mythically objective standard, but when it comes to the really important decisions, we are going to do what our value systems tell us to do.


For example, if a particular employee is really needed in a particular position, the management is going to find a way to put them there, regardless of their skin color. Unless of course the company's value system puts compliance with racial quotas above profits and efficiency in importance. (If they do, well they may not be in business for long without a government subsidy. But then, they just might get one. Funny how legislation supposedly designed to help us overcome prejudice actually forces us to focus on it. Oops.)


Let's pick another example, completely at random. Suppose the big decision we were struggling with was, say, oh, I dunno... maybe who should be the next U.S. President. Should we be 'fair' about this? Heck no. The decision is too important. We're going to make a decision based on our own value systems. We're going to look at the person's race, their religion, their family life, their history, the way they talk, their facial expressions. Everything BESIDES what they actually say. We're going to use every technique we have found most valuable in our own lives for making these kinds of judgements.


So there's the key to winning an election: appeal to the value systems of the voters. Or there is another way: Just change their value systems.


Yeah, that's the end game of this long con, and that's where the real power comes in. You can only go so far by pretending to be what the people want and then doing completely the opposite. There are limits where the masses get so infuriated that they refuse to re-elect you. And once you crash against those limits often enough, you realize you're going about it all wrong. It's time for phase 2: Rather than convincing them that you really are the guy they want to vote for, you've got to convince them that they want to vote for the guy you really are.


This is a stupidity that could survive very few places outside of politics, but it's working very well there. All you do is plant some seeds of doubt, which grows uninhibited in the soil of ignorance: "Maybe your values have been wrong all along. Maybe there is no such thing as moral or immoral; it's just different points of view. Maybe honesty is really not that important. Maybe there is nothing wrong with sexual promiscuity. Maybe it would be nice to not have to work and let somebody else pay for your stuff."


Once you've got all that doubt going, slide in one more little idea: "Maybe, in all fairness, you should stop worrying about these values so much and elect somebody with values completely different from your own. Maybe your values just aren't that important. In fact, yeah, that's what you want. You want somebody who can show all those dummies like you used to be that their values are really wrong. Those values never helped YOU any, did they?"


And then once we've tossed our own value systems, we're going to make some really stupid decisions.
We're going to look at things like whether we've had a president with this particular skin color before. We're going to think that maybe we really should give him or her a turn, just to be sure we don't hurt someone's feelings. What's next? Maybe we should elect someone who is openly homosexual, just to be nice. Just so we can go home from the ballot box feeling safe from criticism. Don't let anyone accuse ME of having values, no sir! I'm completely fair to everyone, at the expense of everyone.


They call this the age of information. Nobody calls it was the age of truth, do they? We have lots of information from every imaginable source. Not that it helps us any. We have lots of information, but we have voluntarily thrown out our value systems in favor of fairness and acceptance for all.


Value systems need good information to act on. If you're going to choose a doctor, you have to know something about that doctor. The hardest decisions to make are the ones where we have no really compelling reason to go one way or the other, where we can see no clear consequence to the choice.


Lots of information; no value system to tell us how to use it.


People love to throw around the phrase, "separation of church and state." Well, the whole point of this principle was/is to allow people freedom of religion, meaning that the government cannot tell you what church you can go to or what religious beliefs you should have. In other words, the government is specifically FORBIDDEN from attempting to influence your value system. Why? Well, a bunch of people who came to America a long time ago and decided that they had had enough of the old way of life. They CREATED a government that was based on the VALUES THEY HELD. The government did not give them their values; they gave their government the values they wanted it to have in the form of a constitution and a bill of rights, and a system of checks and balances designed specifically to prevent the kinds of abuses they had suffered in the past.


Under our constitution, we are not only allowed, but obligated to ensure that our strong values, our inherent feelings about right and wrong, are preserved in this country, even at the risk of being accused of prejudice. Because when we lose our values, we lose everything.