From Irvington … Regarding Bias

To the Editor:

We cannot and must not, in any way, be apathetic towards the creep of bias into our children’s thinking and behavior.  To do so, is to be derelict in our duties as parents, friends, neighbors, and as a community.

These bias incidences are a community problem, not just a school problem.  I am heartened and uplifted to see so many coming forth to express their support for constructive activism that brings light, learning and correctness to this darker part of human behavior.

While these incidences clearly targeted the Jewish faith and culture, it is imperative to remember that we must act just as strongly against any bias towards, ethnicity, race, color, or religion.  I am not idealistic or naive as to the challenge here. In response, I don’t advocate for a grand, sweeping and planned approach.

In fact, I believe it is the continual application of small, simple and humble steps towards understanding others and respecting others that will result in great strides towards acceptance and celebrating diversity.  To accomplish this, we must all act as role models for our children.  As we know, they watch what we do more than listen to what we say.  Not confronting this issue openly sets a very bad example.

I also wish to make clear the distinction between activism that addresses the issue of bias, versus activism to address administrative issues that need to be resolved in our schools.   One is a moral issue, the other a municipal issue, respectively – and while the two should not be confused – they inevitably intersect.

It is clear to me our children are losing their innocence.  This loss of innocence is a natural process in maturation, and it is up to us adults to safely guide them past danger zones, of which bias is only one – and it is one history has shown to be horrifically destructive if allowed to mushroom.

A wise old sage once said, “It takes two to make a prisoner:  the prisoner and the jailor.”  Bias has no less of an impact in the sense that to hold such notions inherent within bias is to limit one’s freedom of thought.  This is no way for our children to start out in an increasingly knowledge-based world —  especially when the era of open communication and information is bringing different cultures together like never before.

Rather than hope for concurrence, I for one will persevere in continually applying small steps in effort to, as Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world,” and thereby set a proper example for all of our children.

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