When I was younger, I had a good friend who would invite me over to his place almost every evening. It awesome, we hung out and had a lot of good times at his place. After a few years his mom started dating some new guy, and things started to change. I would come over and when it was time for dinner I was told to wait downstairs, I wasn’t allowed to come up during dinner. Weird… but ok!
It turned out that his mom’s new boy friend didn’t want me to sit with them at the dinner table. After dinner, my friend was usually quite angry about something the new boyfriend said at the dinner table.
At that time I formed the opinion that the root of all ignorance starts at the dinner table.
It’s so subtle, but it does. When you’re heads down buried in your meal and your parents are making back hand comments about other people and races you subconsciously pick up these ignorant ideas. I think many people don’t realize the effect that a few slight of hand comments have on their young ones. It could be as subtle as criticizing a co-worker and bringing up their race, which really had no place in the conversation in the first place. Who care’s if so and so is of color X, or is from county Y. Is it really relevant to the conversation at hand.
Last night, I continued to extend this thought when I realized that things are worse then I thought when I was younger. Many families now tend to eat in front of the TV. When you’re staring at a TV show you’re almost in a trance like state. It’s almost like your subconscious is open to any form of suggestion, good or bad. While watching the news last night, I overheard one of our family members making some comments that immediately struck a nerve in me. But I realized that no one else had picked up on it. Or if they did, nothing was said.
I too said nothing, but started to think about what kind of impact this comment would have had if my daughter were just a few years older and also sitting in the room. Would she develop negative feelings towards a certain group of people without truly understanding why? Could it have been caused by an ignorant comment made a family member that she loves, at a time when her defenses are completely down.
It bothers me when I hear some drop comments like that, and I recognize that I am hyper sensitive. I’m still having trouble forming an idea on how to effectively deal with situations like that. I’m not confrontational by nature, but I really just want to ask “What makes you think like that?”, “Do you really believe that?”.
It seems that by doing so puts people in a defensive posture, it doesn’t usually change the way they think. They end up putting a filter on when you’re around.