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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Flip Side. By John von Daler

                           Mea Culpa. We are all intolerent. My upbringing was not unprejudiced. It took me years of reading, experiencing, discussing and working at the problem to approach a stage of openness, curiosity, and experience that would allow me in quite a few situations to act with respect toward my fellow man. I still feel that I have a lot to learn. That old reptilian brain is permanently coiled and ready to defend itself against any and all foreign influences.

                Actively wanting not to behave in a prejudiced way toward any other human cannot always help to circumvent really embarrassing mistakes. My wife-to-be used to baby-sit for a beautiful and proud Italian/American Indian family. We heard Buffy Sainte-Marie, argued about issues, nodded approvingly at discussions whose background issues we had no way of understanding. How could we at the age of twenty? We could talk the talk, but stumbled when walking the walk.
                I remember one day running up their lawn to help my girlfriend get some kind of a game going with the two beautiful, dark-skinned children. I was thinking, what do all kids love to do?
                As I approached them I yelled out, "Hi, guys, What'cha playin'? How's about let's play cowboys and Indians!?"
                I still remember my embarrassed silence as I tried without success to retract my own words from the unforgiving air. Cowboys and Indians indeed! Who is supposed to win, who captures whom, who is bad, who is good, what are in fact the rules of that strange game?
                That day helped me to discover about myself that wanting to be non-prejudicial is not enough in itself. It is a lifelong project. The problem will never disappear, because new situations will always arise for which we have no understanding or previous experience. Then a little forgiveness will be called for on the part of our fellow human beings.

My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) is now available. Order through, the publisher or your local bookstore. Click to buy Pieces at the top of the blog. Please feel free to write a short review of the book in your own language at or GoodReads. Thanks for your support!

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