About every other month one of my children comes home from school upset that they have been called Nazi. I find it to be the ultimate irony: These two may be the children of a German American, but they have not lived in the era of when the Nazis were in power and they are certainly not behaving like ones. I make sure of that as I went through school in Germany and we were taught the important lessons of what led to the rise of Hitler and his dangerous ideologies and also about the responsibility that we Germans have to never, ever let this happen again. They are simply called Nazis because of their German heritage and it is this singling out of one criterion that makes them different from the others and then generalized tribal knowledge is applied and voila it results in prejudice.
Why am I telling you all of this? I am not even upset with the young folks who are trying to get a rise out of my children. They do not know better – yet. What I would like for you to do though is to stop and think for a minute the next time you have the inkling to say or think something negative about someone who fits a certain stereotype. Then I would like for you to actively think this thought through and ask yourself if you know the person well enough to pass judgment.
How many stereotypes can you think about? There is appearance, income level, jobs, cars, clothes, education and so many more that I venture saying that everyone of us is guilty about placing folks into a big stew pot worth full of prejudice just about every week. It is easy to do it, but be careful because you can be at the receiving end of this very quickly too. Make a difference by being careful not to judge people based on generalizations.