Inspirational Quote by Peter Singer
(Sandusky, OH, USA)
Picture of Peter Singer
"It is easy for us to criticize the prejudices of our grandfathers, from which our fathers freed themselves. It is more difficult to distance ourselves from our own views, so that we can dispassionately search for prejudices among the beliefs and values we hold."
-- Peter Singer
This quote reminded me years ago of the forces that control our behavior (or, for another way of putting it, the atoms, molecules, neurons, electricity, neurotransmitters, etc of our brains). One factor is genetic or learned cultural and personal prejudices and assumptions.
Our grandfathers surely had prejudices that they took for granted, and believed to be correct and "common sensical," that we rightly condemn today. Which of ours are equally inaccurate, biased, and harmful? Which are we defending or ignoring, causing us to live blindly in important ways?
Since then, I attempted to question everything, take nothing as gospel, and rebuild my way of interpreting the world. I first rejected speciesism, initially accepting animal welfare, then animal rights. I stopped deluding myself about modern human slavery, learning about the outright buying and selling of children for uses such as labor on plantations (ex. farming cacao), researching fair labor for manufactured goods and various degrees of wage slavery, and changing my buying habits accordingly.
Talking to people with different medical conditions helped me to appreciate the unwarranted stigma in our society, especially towards those with mental disorders; I was impressed by meeting one brave woman who had stayed rational during a psychotic episode! The very ways we see and treat those around us seems just as unreasonable to me now as it was once an assumed part of reality--and just as alien as this knowledge must be to most people.
Learning about issues concerning ageism, consent and coercion, all-positive communication, emotional abuse, and attachment parenting has opened my eyes to what they really are and their implications for all sentient individuals. Despite decades of learning harmful ways of relating to others, I attempt to integrate my new knowledge into my everyday life.
These are a few ways my new way of thinking has influenced me. I now believe that the deepest happiness can be reached by honestly exploring our world and our minds, and that the point of life is to enjoy our happiness.