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The Lost Art of Discrimination

Written by JB Williams

©2005-05-01

As is often the case these days, offensive language or behavior is defined in the eye of the beholder. It depends on whether one subscribes to old school or new age definitions of words that have been around for centuries. This word discrimination used to be a compliment of sorts, as in “one has discriminating tastes” based on the old school definition “To make a clear distinction; distinguish: discriminate among the options available. To make sensible decisions; judge wisely.

Of course the new age definition is much less flattering, “to treat one person or group worse than others or better than others, usually because of a prejudice about race, ethnic group, age group, religion, or gender.” Nearly every opinion qualifies as some form of discrimination today.

Folks from the old school have been making valued judgments about finances, religion, family matters and friends their entire lives without ever thinking for a second that they were doing anything less than what is required of them to get through this world.

New age folks only know the new definition and in their minds, anyone who projects valued judgments is being unreasonably judgmental, not discriminating but discriminatory.

Old school dictates that we must make decisions, judgments and distinctions, distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong, and make choices or suffer the consequences. New age says it is judgmental, prejudice, discriminatory and offensive to do so.

New age looks at the world through rose colored glasses where all people, all ideologies and all behaviors have equal merit and therefore, an equal right to exist. In their world, there is no such thing as basic right and wrong, or at least no set standard or agreed upon code of conduct and allegedly, no consequences either, at least no acceptable consequences.

But folks from the old school have seen this before, many times as a matter of fact. They are pretty sure that right and wrong do exist, that all ideas, behaviors, ideologies and therefore people are in fact not equal, of equal merit in society, or deserving of equal status or acceptance. The bank robber’s behavior is not equal to the clerks behind the counter as an example. Therefore, the two people are not deserving of equal status or treatment…

The founders, based on their belief in a loving God, said we are all created equal and I believe they were right. This does not mean however that we were all created the same. People of equal means achieve unequal results all the time. Not everyone who buys a lotto ticket wins. But at the point they bought the ticket, they were all equal and they all had an equal opportunity to win.

Life in America is much the same as buying a lotto ticket. Just because we have an equal opportunity does not mean that we are automatically entitled to win.

Freedom and personal liberty does not include all behaviors and ideologies, it never did and it never will. We have prisons full of people who would love equal status in society. But their behaviors were deemed unequal, undeserving of equal status. Judgments were made, distinctions were drawn and they have been discriminately singled out as undesirable for society, by society.

There’s not a person on earth who does not discriminate, make judgments, choices or distinctions. Every person has some idea of right and wrong. But not all agree on what falls into which category. Here lies the division…and the never ending debate.

The problem is, in old school farmer’s lingo, “pigs don’t know that pigs stink”. Criminals think everyone is a criminal. Therefore, they don’t understand why they are singled out. Liar’s believe that everybody lies, therefore, they feel unfairly singled out when they get caught.

Everyone wants equal status, but does everyone deserve equal status? Saddam Hussein saw nothing wrong with how he treated his people. We will watch in amazement as he and his lawyers defend his actions in court, as if he has no idea that brutalizing and murdering his own people for decades was wrong. He too feels discriminated against… and he should, because we have discriminately determined that his behavior is unacceptable.

So what of those who discriminate against the homosexual behavior? While most would prefer to not know everything that happens in the privacy of someone else’s bedroom, most people believe the behavior is wrong. They also believe that it is their job to make such life choices for themselves and those around them. To the homosexual, they are being unfairly discriminated against. But what of the homosexual who discriminates against the pedophile, or the pedophile that discriminates against those who practice bestiality?

As crazy as it sounds, the only difference between these discriminating choices is where one draws the line between right and wrong. All draw a line, just not all in the same place. On one side of the line are those discriminating and on the other, those being discriminated against.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not suggesting we should begin a witch hunt for homosexuals. I’m simply pointing out that the art of discrimination is practiced by all. The variation rests in our discriminating choices, where we draw that line. Anyone can make a case for their own behavior.

As for equal economic opportunity. Everyone should have an equal right to buy the lotto ticket and best I can tell we do. But does that mean that everyone who buys a ticket is entitled to win, or that everyone will? Should the one who does win be forced to share the spoils with everyone who bought a ticket but didn’t win?

We all start out the same, equal in God’s eye’s and under American law, naked, unable to feed ourselves and flat broke. But we live in America, so we all have a lotto ticket, so-to-speak.

You might say that different environments unfairly alter the playing field, giving one a leg up while another a road block to cashing in their ticket. But I can show you people raised in a terrible environment who have succeeded as a result, as well as people born with a silver spoon who have failed as result.

Equal opportunity does not mean we all have equal drive, talents, determination or willingness to sacrifice, or that we all even want the same things or define success in the same terms. Even when we do, we don’t always achieve the same results and nobody said we would.

So what is all this talk about discrimination in America, as though it’s an awful stain on our society?

We each need to realize that discrimination applies to all. The black man otherwise qualified who is denied a job on the basis of his color. But also the white man, who might be better qualified, denied a job due to his color. This type of discrimination should not be tolerated by either side and as long as it is, both sides will target the other.

There is great value in the lost art of proper discrimination. In fact our future as a society and a nation depends upon our ability to discriminate between good and evil, right and wrong and what is or is not acceptable behaviors for our society. We don’t only have the right, but the responsibility.

Other countries often mock America’s discriminating tastes, but usually out of envy for our unparalleled opportunity, security, vast resources and achievements.

No nation on earth offers as much to every citizen and if we want to keep it that way, we will have to be discriminate. No apologies needed…

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