Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's Good to be Prejudiced

Prejudice is a bad thing, right? Conservatives, for example, are always complaining about the prejudice and bias of the news media. The problem isn't that the newscasters are biased because this is something none of us can truly avoid. The problem is that they claim to be unbiased deliverers of straight news stories when, in fact, they are more often than not presenting editorial pieces favorable to their particular worldview. But bias in the media is an issue for another time.

The fact is, we are all prejudiced in the broader sense of the word. The concept of "prejudice" is commonly seen in a negative light because it has come to be associated with racial bigotry. This sort of prejudice is, of course, to be rejected. Generally speaking, however, prejudice is a good and helpful element in our lives. How so? Consider this quote from the late, great conservative statesman Edmund Burke:

Edmund Burke"Prejudice is of ready application in the emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, skeptical, puzzled, and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man's virtue his habit; and not a series of unconnected acts." [as quoted from Burke's Reflections by Russell Kirk in The Conservative Mind, pg. 17]
This sort of prejudice is a wonderful asset to us. The key is the content of our prejudice. What makes our prejudice good or evil is the object of our mind's engagement. Are we engaging our minds in, as Burke wrote, "a steady course of wisdom and virtue?" Or, is it preoccupied with depravity and foolishness? If we are honest with ourselves, the answer is a mixture of all of the above. But this ought not cause us to give up in despair. "Prejudice renders a man's virtue his habit" and this comes through our daily strivings. I'm reminded of the words of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians:
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things Apostle Paul
and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained." [Philippians 3:8-16]
We have not yet obtained perfection or a complete knowing of Christ but we strain forward to what lies ahead for us one day. Likewise we strive to engage our minds now "in a steady course of wisdom and virtue" in order to develop prejudice which "renders a man's virtue his habit; and not a series of unconnected acts."

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post Jeff. Very Edwardsian . . . I mean biblical. :-)