Hearing a lot about OTHER people’s bias lately?

posted in: CYJ Blog, Lifeskills, Reflection

(Best of Celebrating Your Journey – November 28, 2008)

To all my readers: With 2019, the 14th year of my Celebrating Your Journey blog articles, “From the Heart” byline, I will be offering the “Best of the Best” articles you found helpful through the years. Many thanks to everyone who have given input and followed along w/ each month’s lifeskill—Relationships/Core Values, Time Mgt, Career/Money Mgt, Recordkeeping, Possessions, Housekeeping, Wellness, Meals, Childcare, Recreation/ Entertainment, Reflection, and Celebration. For my new readers, may these lifeskill articles offer you encouragement, insight, and commitment to seek, reach, and achieve your life dreams and goals in synergy.

Throughout this election year and definitely lately, I hear and read about the so-called “bias” of people in politics and the press. They are accused of being too Republican or overboard on giving attention to only Democrats. And whatever happened to the Independents? Do they still exist (according to the press, that is)?

So, since this month’s topic is Reflection, consider this to be my commentary on what really is “bias.” First, let’s start out at the gate with one single truth: If you are a human being, you have bias! Whether you think it is unfortunate or a blessing, you will have to dig deeper as to why you believe what you believe, and decide for yourself.

Yet, that is the truth. Our own personal and professional “bias” shows in our genes, our words, our deeds, our lifestyle. Whether for good or ill, “bias” in life comes with the territory. And there are unlimited “different strokes for different folks.” Wow, does that date me!

Webster Dictionary defines Bias as “an inclination of temperament or outlook ; especially a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment; prejudice—an instance of such prejudice.”

So, since this month’s topic is Reflection, consider this to be my commentary on what really is “bias.” First, let’s start out at the gate with one single truth: If you are a human being, you have bias! Whether you think it is unfortunate or a blessing, you will have to dig deeper as to why you believe what you believe, and decide for yourself. Yet, that is the truth. Our own personal and professional “bias” shows in our genes, our words, our deeds, our lifestyle. Whether for good or ill, “bias” in life comes with the territory. And there are unlimited “different strokes for different folks.” Wow, does that date me!
Webster Dictionary defines Bias as “an inclination of temperament or outlook ; especially a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment; prejudice—an instance of such prejudice.”

According to Wikipedia, “Bias is a term used to describe a tendency or preference towards a particular perspective, ideology or result, especially when the tendency interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective. The term “biased” is used to describe an action, judgment, or other outcome influenced by a prejudged perspective. It is also used to refer to a person or body of people whose actions or judgments exhibit bias.

In psychology, cognitive bias is has the tendency to interpret new information in such a way that confirms one’s prior beliefs, even to the extreme of denial, ignoring information that conflicts with one’s prior beliefs. The fundamental attribution error, or correspondence bias is when people tend to explain others’ behavior in terms of personality, whereas they tend to explain their own behavior in terms of the situation. We each can probably relate to any one of these.

In most all definitions, they tend to lean toward the negative when referring to the term “bias” as a judgment or prejudice. I consider this unfortunate, since none of us can really get totally free from our biases or preferences in life. Why? First, we all have to make decision on what we believe and how we live our lives. And, again, because I believe we human beings are actually conceived with certain physiological biases that are genetically programmed into us at conception.

Yet, that doesn’t mean we are stuck with them all. Much of heredity is tempered by our environment—physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, spiritually. At every step in life, we have the freedom to choose what we believe and how we behave. If we are really honest with ourselves, we can’t just blame our parents, our circumstances, politics, the press, the weather, or even the devil (which some often do with the quip, “the devil made me do it!).

When we really look closely at our family of origin, we are still integrally part of our familial gene pool. Have you ever wondered why your grandchildren may relate more to you than their own parents? Although, we know there may be relational reasons why. Often times, it has to do with their genes matching up with yours. Compare pictures of yourself at their age. Do you both seem to look alike? If so, you just might also think alike. Yet, keep in mind, there is lots of room for maneuvering our perspectives on many things as we grow up based on the values we embrace and the relationships we choose early in life and senior years.

This is why I diverge from the traditional definition of “bias.” I see it as something more neutral and even positive for every human being. Again, why? To me, bias simply represents how you express your core values with each other. So, if your core values lean Republican, you will be Republican. If your core values lean Democrat, then you will be a Democrat. Now, for the rest of you who are such free thinkers—you just may decide to create your own mix, politically speaking—a little here, a little there. If you do, you just may find you do the same in other areas of your life. And since this is still a free nation so far, you have that inalienable right. So, go for it!

For me, although I am a registered Republican for right now, please consider me a “Conservative Hippie” from the sixties. This term was recently coined by an artisan client of mine. And I felt it fit me quite nicely also. Back then, no one knew how to label me. I was an art major with a business minor, get that! It was a real “trip” integrating those two worlds in my life; but I had loads of fun doing it!

For many frustrated students and colleagues over the years, I just didn’t fit the mold, and many others didn’t either. They were perpetually curious about where I stood on any particular topic. We had many lively constructive conversations in our free speech forums until it got very ugly at times around the Vietnam War topic. When I look around me today and how some are behaving, it tends to bring back memories of those times both good and bad.

In spite of the bad times, looking back, it’s a wonderful thing to be free to know who you are; and to be able to comfortably disagree, agreeably, with those across the aisle or down the street, or on the opposite side of the world. This is a lesson I feel we will be learning again with the uncertainties before us within our nation and around the world. So, feel free to hold on to who you are and what you believe in expressing your “bias” as long as it holds true to your core values and your respectful treatment of other human beings with their “biases.”

You just might find common ground in your core values if you give it a chance. You just may find a way to work together on those areas you both deem important for your families, our communities, our nation. That is what our political system, free press, and free country is all about.