Regulatory anti-discrimination measures, moral/social pressure are only successful when people are willing to comply and change. Otherwise, “offenders” are forced to hide their genuine emotions, accumulate them, switch to hidden opposition that may eventually erupt into explicit adversity.
Improve society via personal change
It is easy to accumulate bias and inadvertently start acting on it. The good news is we have an early-warning system in place — our emotions. They highlight “sore spots”, violent habits, obsolete notions, the root causes that can be addressed to actually fix discrimination.
Even if we feel it is not us, but others are the ones who need fixing, our balanced, compassionate presence will help them tune-in and change. If, on the contrary, we invest in righteous anger and moral contempt, the vicious circle of mental violence ensues.
Tip of the personal emotional iceberg
There is always a cause inside. A hot button that if pushed gives us “the right” to discriminate, clouds our mind and makes us forget the equity of every human being, kindness, and compassion. Someone younger/older, from a different country/race hit a sore spot we avoided fixing and voila!
Internal causes of discrimination
Racism, gender, age, etc. discriminations are symptoms of obsolete views, attachments, destructive habits, lack of emotional hygiene. We allow stress, uncontrolled mental activity to skew our perception and govern our responses. A little bit of external pressure, and the fragile ethical dam of equity, social norms, and regulations is breached.
If we have a history of neglecting/suppressing our violent emotional impulses when our jobs, financial security, or wellbeing were threatened, any difference can become intolerable. We can even discriminate against ourselves! Think lesser of ourselves, or even hate our guts because of our misconceptions of race, gender, body, amplified by the stack of reactions automated in the past.
It takes two to tango
Well, someone, we are about to “discriminate” may contribute too. Their expectations of injustice, fear of unfair treatment, preemptive anger, — may go into resonance with our emotions, making it harder for us to preserve equanimity and unbiased reasoning.
An obvious solution is to reduce such emotional contagion: address mutual emotional proclivities like fear, anger, jealousy, psychological dependency on fairness/justice, etc.
It goes without saying that any person- or group-specific prejudices, all past cases of aggressive responses, traumatic experiences, and stories are to be fully investigated, and processed so that destructive reactions no longer arise.
Reducing the chances of getting discriminated
What if we are on the other side? Let’s bring our kindness, compassion, balanced presence to the table so that we don’t provoke and amplify the other side’s destructive potential. I am not talking about tips or quick-fixes, trying to put out a fire “on the scene” (it is usually too late to “manage emotions” after they break out).
We are usually well aware of our vulnerabilities. Hence, there’s homework to do. Prepare for the interactions that may trigger our worst instincts. Prevent destructive emotions from happening. Accept any outcome without unleashing anger or falling into self-pity/despair. Address “critical” outcomes, especially, the ones we feel “entitled to”, extinguish connected fears. Train the mind.
Blaming someone vs. holding accountable
Even if we have been treated unfairly, blaming the offender is not the same as holding them accountable. The blame goes far beyond the acknowledgment of responsibility and often contrary to promoting change. Instead of acting constructively based on reason, we unleash our destructive emotions and exaggerated responses.
The vaccine against emotional pandemic
Discrimination is just one of the numerous issues brought to light by the current emotional pandemic. However, we are the vaccine. The deeper our embodied understanding, the higher our impact on others. Our ability to help people close to us, our communities. Noone is an idle bystander. We either invest in the spread of contagious destructive emotions or share antidotes, — embodied resilience, kindness, compassion.