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January 17, 2013

MAY: Pride and prejudice

William James, an American philosopher and psychologist who lived in the late 1800s, wrote “Many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” Frederick the Great said “The greatest and noblest pleasure that men can have in this world is to discover new truths; and the next is to shake off old prejudices.” W. C. Fields quipped, “I’m free of all prejudices. I hate all equally.”

Groucho Marx often felt the prejudice against the Jewish race. He once remarked, “I don’t care to belong to a club that would have people like me as members,” but in reality he was often hurt by the spirit of people. He tells the story of taking his youngest daughter to an exclusive club in New York City to swim one hot summer afternoon. The attendant reminded the comic, “I am sorry Mr. Marx, this is a restricted swimming club.” “I understand,” retorted Groucho, “but my daughter is only half-Jewish. Can she go in up to her waist?”

Prejudice has a long history on the earth. At this time of year, we pause to honor Martin Luther King Jr. for having the courage to dream of a day that was free of the slavery that prejudice promotes. It might surprise you to know that even in the days of Jesus, there were strong prejudices separating peoples. When people first heard where Jesus was from, many asked “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” 

Now, if you’re speaking of a relatively obscure rock group of the ’70s who still believe it’s a good thing to tour today, the answer is obviously “No.” But if you are speaking of an even more obscure village in Galilee at the time of Jesus, everyone would have answered with a resounding, “No!” 

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