“It is never too late to give up your prejudices.”
Henry wrote this in 1850. Even when you look beyond race and religion, prejudice still has many forms and causes so much pain, doubt and turmoil in our lives.
Are you a “have not” who is prejudice against the “haves” or vice versa? A conservative who is prejudice against a liberal? A US citizen prejudice against all of “them” – whoever they are?
Wherever and however people can be different from one another, prejudice lurks in the shadows. Searching and waiting for moment of weakness. It invades our thoughts at the precise moment that something happens that we don’t like, agree with or want to deal with honestly.
It’s prejudice that preys on our human condition to try and make sense out of anything and everything we experience in order to trick ourselves into believing that we actually have the power to prevent or change whatever it is that has happened.
The perverse logic follows that if we are unable to control what has happened, then we still must be able control something for us to be able to accept it – and that something becomes blame. In other words, if something bad happens, and if I didn’t cause it to happen then (logically) someone else must have caused it to happen. Isn’t it so much easier to say that something is “their fault” than to admit that we (at times) are completely powerless and that life is a never-ending fragile balance of both good and bad experiences?
It’s important to point out that giving up on prejudices does not necessarily mean that you must love, understand or even agree with everyone, all the time. People are different and each individual has come from a collection of experiences that are both similar and potentially very different from our own. Prejudice wants to make us believe that only “our way” is the right way….therefore anyone who does not do-think-look-smell-act like us is wrong.
Prejudice is srengthened by vanity. Weakened by humility.
Henry himself was not immune to prejudices, just as none of us are. He disliked and disagreed with many – as they did of him. However, Henry became self-aware of these thoughts and then actively worked to keep them at bay. He didn’t go “out” to try and convince others to change, like so many others do.
Instead, he focused his energy on what he knew he could have some control over – the thoughts that were forming inside his mind. Turns out, that this was not only a much shorter journey, it also became more personally fulfilling than any oratory or public debate ever could. We are all fortunate enough that he then had the good sense to capture as best he could these thoughts and experiences in written form. In this way Henry has provided us a guidebook to help us along the way and proof that the transcendental journey is not only possible, but altogether necessary to live a full and meaningful life.
Henry encourages each of us to influence and teach others by example, not through coercion, force or discipline. Be present in The World and accept that it is what it is…and will always (and only) become what we make of it.
“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
So, will you choose to curse the rose for having thorns or cherish the thorns for producing and protecting such a beautiful thing as a rose ?