If you google “violence around the world on Friday November 13” you will see pages and pages of links on the attacks in Paris. I stopped at 9.
But Paris wasn’t the only place people were killed on Friday – Beirut, for example, also had a deadly attack.
Why didn’t we hear as much about that?
Instead we have been inundated with Paris footage and conversations about ISIS.
Don’t get me wrong – what happened is terrible. My heart hurts when I think about it.
But my point is that our hearts could be hurting about many things that occurred in the world two days ago – how come the spotlight has been on this one tragedy?
Welcome to systemic (and often unconscious) bias – where certain people, issues, cultures, ethnicities, religions, genders, ages, abilities, skin colours, sexual orientations, countries, values (the list could go on) are shared and highlighted while others are sidelined.
It happens in the news, in government, when making policy, in education curriculum, in schools, in our daily conversations.
And because of this we miss much of what is happening to our fellow human beings around the world – the good and the tragic. We also form opinions and solidify stereotypes about who is and isn’t “good”, and who is and ins’t “bad”.
I also think that we are slowly stripped of our humanity and our natural instinct to connect with others. Especially Others who are Not Like Us (capitals intentional).
The dangers of bias are many.
If we are not aware of bias – systemic, unconscious, personal – we:
- don’t ask questions of what we are seeing, reading, hearing and learning or the people/organizations/systems that provide the information.
- may think that what we are seeing is all there is.
- may not realize that we may not be getting the whole story.
- can start to believe that some people are better than others
- can start to believe that some people are worse than others
- can form rigid opinions based on only a percentage of the facts or reality – or a skewed portrayal of these.
These are just a few of the ways bias can sweep us along like a tidal wave, and carry us with it without our realization. All of us. We are inundated with messages all day, from various sources about what and who has value and what and who does not, who we should fear and who is safe, and who deserves (and doesn’t deserve) our time and attention – and respect.
More and more, our responsibility is to be critical of what we see and hear, question what else there is, question ourselves, and remember our common humanity.
Quite simply, we have to see more.
Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Author and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion
Radio Show Host – Creating Families