Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Prejudice's Sanctuary

Charles Krug Winery, St Helena Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

August 17, 2017

"As an analogy, one's worldview can be compared to a wall of bricks on which one sits like Humpty Dumpty to view and interact with life - the world, others, and oneself. Each brick in your wall of bricks is something you have come to believe or assume about some aspect of life, or about the world, others, or yourself. Such beliefs and assumptions include unexamined ideas, biases, prejudices, social and cultural embeddedness, and taken-for-granted assumptions. These beliefs and assumptions are the product of conclusions, interpretations, or decisions (remembered or not) that you have made about your life experiences, and what you've learned from or have been told by others that you believed. The life experiences during which you made these conclusions, interpretations, or decisions include the experiences you've had in various environments and cultures, for example, in the environments and cultures of your family, friends, colleagues, religion, communities, nationality, training, education, affiliations, career, and the like."
This essay, Prejudice's Sanctuary, is the companion piece to Black Brick.

It was written at the same time as

Werner's analogy of one's worldview as a wall of bricks has, as a cautionary note, no similarities to Pink Floyd's "The Wall" (as popular as theirs is) as was suggested to me on various occasions as I was fleshing out this essay.

The mind is a machine hell-bent on survival whose logic system is "Everything is the same as everything else ... except not always.". As soon as you notice this  wall of bricks sounding like (and therefore somehow being similar to) Pink Floyd's, consider that's just your mind at play, doing what it does best. It only gets in the way. Thank it for sharing, then let it go.

If we tell the truth about it, it's each of our many constraints  ie it's each of our vast plethora of accumulated conditioned behaviors which distort our natural view of life and living, and of the world, and of what it is to be a human being, thereby limiting our available choices of action. In this conversation I'll refer to such constraints and conditioned behaviors collectively as our prejudices  although a much fuller, much more detailed distinguishing and articulation of what constrains and conditions our behavior, is laid bare by Werner in his source quote at the start of this essay.

Our prejudices in and about specific areas of our lives, are what could be called our frames of reference. The way we're prejudiced towards life and living, and towards the world in totality, is what Werner refers to as our worldview. What's the relationship between our frames of reference and our worldview, in Werner's wall of bricks?

 A)  Frames of reference:

Our frames of reference are individual bricks ie are specific prejudices we have in and about distinct areas of life: class, color, race, money, sex, nationality, religion etc.

If we're authentic ie if we tell the truth about it, you and I each have many, many such prejudices. Really we do. No kidding (listen: if you say you have no prejudices, you're either naïve or you're lying)!

 B)  Worldview:

Our worldview is the entire wall of bricks. It's our overall view of life and living, and of the world, comprising the totality of all of our frame of reference bricks ie it's the sum of (and therefore it's the restricted vision afforded through) all of our prejudices.

Is there a path to being free of this myriad of prejudices which restrict our natural view of life and living, and the world, and what it is to be a human being, and limit our available choices of action?

Consider the following two paths to freedom - and by "freedom" I mean nothing less (and nothing more) than an opening, an opportunity, a new sense of what's possible:

 1)  Uncovering each prejudice one at a time:

One path to freedom is to uncover each of our prejudices individually, inquiring into each of them, examining each of them, understanding  each of them (be careful: "understanding" is almost never  a useful word to use in a conversation for transformation, but it'll do here), and then choosing to discard them, or not;

 2)  Going directly to the heart of the matter of being human:

Another path to freedom (not a better  path - just another  path) which goes directly to the heart of the matter of what it is to be a human being, and in the process does an end run  (if you will) around uncovering each and every prejudice separately and individually, is to simply grok  (as Robert Heinlein may have said) that you and I filter everything  through our prejudices, individually distinguished or not, individually realized or not, thus cementing our worldview.

Realizing anything and everything we assume / opine / interpret to be factual / certain / true (not to mention right)  about life and living, and about the world, may only seem  that way because of a prejudice ie because of a component frame of reference brick in our cemented worldview wall, needs no further examining. Why? Because it's just this way  for us human beings. That's enormously  liberating. When you fully get that, you kind of stop taking yourself so seriously, you know?

It takes big-hearted people to confront and to admit that it's we  who, unknowingly or knowingly (mostly unknowingly) harbor prejudices. By "we" I don't mean an altruistic "we" like humanity. I mean it's we like you and I as individuals ie as ordinary folks  ie as regular guys who give safe harbor to prejudice in our own lives, and therefore in the world - and in most cases, we're oblivious we're doing it. To get a chilling sense of who's really the source of the totality of prejudice in the world, all you need is a flat-footed, stone-cold sober look in the mirror. It's more than that actually. It's more than we, you and I, are only the source of prejudice in the world: it's that we each justify  our prejudices ie we give them a place to hide ie we give prejudice a refuge, a sanctuary. You and I, in other words, are prejudice's sanctuary.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:


an unfair and unreasonable opinion or feeling, especially when formed without enough thought or knowledge

Also from the Cambridge International Dictionary:


protection or a safe place, especially for someone or something being chased or hunted

Whether you take the first path or the second path to freedom from prejudice, is up to you. Indeed, even if you don't inquire into your prejudices at all, is entirely your choice. Either way, what becomes abundantly clear with the onset of transformation is that prejudice, in whatever form it exists, isn't out there  with other people. To the contrary, it's yours and it's mine. To be prejudiced, which is to say to have a worldview and frames of reference, is inextricably human: like fingers, everyone's got some. Perniciously they run our lives until we distinguish them, at which time we regain some say in how much or how little they'll limit our available choices of action.

The presentation, delivery, and style of Prejudice's Sanctuary are all my own work.
The ideas recreated in Prejudice's Sanctuary were first originated, distinguished, and articulated by  .

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