The unthinking bigot

By | 2013/05/23


Read through enough of my blog and you’ll likely see some contradictory posts. While sometimes I cringe at what I’ve written in the past, I tend not to delete it, even when I disagree with it, because it actively demonstrates that I’ve changed, and grown.

I have somewhat of a mental blank when it comes to math – I count on my fingers when I don’t have a calculator and use a calculator when I’ve got it. It’s more efficient that way; doing so lets me get on with things that I am good at. That’s not just now – it was at University, too. While most of my fellow computer science students were taking advanced maths, physics, engineering and chemistry electives, almost every one of my electives was taken up with philosophy.

I love computer science, and loved almost every computer science course I took at University, but I’ll maintain until I die that philosophy was a far more important subject for me to study. Without a doubt, it taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learnt.

Philosophy taught me to think.

People often joke about philosophy courses and students, but the single biggest lesson they teach you is to not take anything for granted. Just because something has always been done a particular way, it doesn’t preclude you asking “why don’t we do it differently?” Just because you were raised thinking something doesn’t mean you have to keep thinking it. Just because you passionately believe in something now doesn’t mean you have to passionately believe in it tomorrow.

Bigotry, to me, is a perfect example of someone who is unable to think. That’s not to say a bigot is dumb (though there are certainly dumb bigots), but someone who is bigoted on a particular front demonstrates an inherent refusal to think – to self-reflect, self-moderate, and self-improve.

Within their bigotry, their actions are often contemptible, but the odd thing is, they’re also quite pitiable. A person who is unwilling to think, to improve – it seems a terribly unfortunate thing.

Religion coined the term, love the sinner, hate the sin; it’s vindictive and nasty judgemental hypocrisy in its inception, and cruel in its practice. Yet somewhere, there’s room for a more relaxed, deplore the bigotry, feel sorry for the bigot. After all, people who are unwilling to think, and grow, deserve our pity.