Simply put, prejudice is a lopsided opinion or judgment about a person, thing, or situation. It could also be defined as a negative emotion or assessment from the majority toward a minority. Despite logical counterevidence, these attitudes often remain unchanged. Prejudice is often kept in the back of our minds. There are many reasons why people tend to think in a particular way when they are presented with specific situations or objects. In this process, people delude themselves into believing the rhetoric of certain groups they belong to. These selective recognitions are usually processed unconsciously. Prejudice is also shared with other members of the group. These ideas begin as simple prejudices at first, but the prejudices are expanded by sharing them with other people. These prejudices become justified based on a group mentality, so it becomes a vicious circle.
Prejudice we come by easily
Prejudice can take many forms. We generally put emphasis on an individual’s educational background or job. We also tend to associate superiority based on academic ability and jobs. People who attend a prestigious university are often judged to be superior.
Most people also think older people like Trot and traditional music. Older people can like hip-hop or rock music as well. Older people often think it is too late to start new things themselves. However, Harland Sanders started KFC when he was 65.
Most people have prejudices about appearance. They think students who wear fancy clothes do not study hard. Discrimination is often based on appearance. Consequently, beauty has become a main criterion for evaluating people, and many people are having plastic surgery.
Ways to overcome prejudice
There are ways to overcome our most basic prejudices. First, we should try to see the good side of things and people we have negative associations with. When you face the other party, you can try to see their strong points or things they do well. Things are not always as they seem. Even tenuous things might hide great possibility. Recognition of these groups goes a long way as well. People have many different characteristics, and these differences need to be seen as unique and not negative.
We also need to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. When someone behaves differently, we need to consider their situation instead of judging them out of hand. This will allow us to understand a little bit better why he or she behaves the way they do.
Breaking people's prejudices
Jung-Seok Kim (39)
A disabled table tennis player
- Yeungnam University Department of Commerce and Trade drop out
- Won a gold medal at the 2006 Doha Asian Games
- Participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
- Won a silver medal at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games
- He is training in Bohun Hospital Rehabilitation Gym
Q) Why did you decide to start training?
A) I became disabled from the waist down due to an accident during my military service. I didn't do anything for about 2 - 3 years after the accident. I felt pity for myself. I thought that I couldn't do anything, and I felt uncomfortable when other people stared at me. One day, other people who are in the same situation recommended I start to train. A few days later, I decided to give it a try. My family and friends encouraged me, and they were pleased with my new start. My depression disappeared after I became active again. It is hard to believe that I have been training for 10 years already.
Q) Have you noticed any difference since you started playing table tennis?
A) Everything in my life has changed. I don’t like to think about the days that I lived with no purpose, and how despondent I was about my situation. Now, it is fun to meet people. I often attend my friends' weddings and congratulate them. In the past, I could not conceive of the idea of entering into a restaurant even if physical access was not a problem. Now, if I want to eat out I am not ashamed to ask the owner of a restaurant to push my wheelchair if there is no handicapped access. I find that more and more restaurants are having ramps installed. I do not try to avoid these situations any more. I try to overcome the difficulties that are presented to me.
Q) What is an especially memorable experience after you started playing table tennis?
A) In 2007, there was a man hospitalized in Bohun hospital, he always looked depressed. He entered the hospital because of an illness. One day he came to help us at the gym. After he saw me training with people, he smiled. He said "I came here to help disabled people, but you look healthy, and I feel like the disabled one."
After that, he brightened. In addition, other people who come here have said that they were cheered up by our bright attitudes. It makes me feel more worthwhile than ever when I meet people who gain strength through my work.
Q) Have you ever dealt with difficulty due to other people’s biases about your disability?
A) I was once in love. My girlfriend and I had promised to marry, but her parents were in serious denial about her marrying me because of my disability. Finally, I split up with her. I thoroughly understood her parents’ opinion, but I suffered from the fact that I could not marry her because of my disability. I cannot walk, but I live like everyone else. My disability will always be an obstacle, but I will work hard to break prejudices others might have about me.
Q) What are your future plans?
A) I think that I will continue training in the future. If I don't train, my health will get worse. However, some people worry that I train too much, so after the 2012 London Paralympics I will stop competing and only train lightly.
Q) What do you want to tell YU students?
A) Everyone has their own kind of trouble, but there is always hope. In my case, I have a very large obstacle to overcome. However, even I can have hope. Hope is like a beam of light in a dark tunnel. Your dreams are at the end of the tunnel, and if you hold onto your hope you can realize those dreams. Therefore, I want you to not give up hope and overcome any difficulty life might present you.
Chang-Man Shin (26)
A male nurse in Daegu Health College Hospital
- Graduated from Daegu Health College Hospital in 2011
- He is working for one month
Q) What made you decide to be a nurse?
A) Many people think nursing is a woman’s job, but it is absolutely appropriate work for men.Therefore, I felt that I could be a pioneer. I am satisfied with my work and I have a lot of fun.
Q) What are some differences between you and female nurses at work?
A) In my case, my work is not different than that of female nurses. Male nurses at other hospitals must enter the operating room, because surgeries require a male nurse’s strength and strong stomach. Therefore male nurses in other hospital are very busy and their work is difficult. Daegu Health College Hospital is a rehabilitation hospital, so I do not have to enter the operating room, and I mainly care for patients along with the female nurses. However, I have to participate in the treatment of male patients and in treatments that are physically difficult for female nurses.
Q) How did the people close to you react to your career choice?
A) When I revealed I would become a nurse, my friends did not think it was strange. My parents also supported my selection. There are conservative people in my parent’s generation and there are even some in my generation. These people ask why a man would want to become a nurse. However, people nowadays generally do not think being a male nurse is strange.
Q) What has been the most memorable moment during your work?
A) I have not even been at work for a month yet, so I haven’t had many memorable moments. However, when I went to the hospital to help with physical therapy, an old woman who usually treats other nurses coldly treated me like her grandson. During physical therapy, it is important to make conversation with patients. I thanked the old woman for treating me so kindly, and these friendly interactions have made it more fun to learn my job.
It could be said that bias is an aspect of human nature. Therefore, it is difficult to completely avoid prejudice. There are people who overcome these difficulties everyday. Prejudice takes away a person’s potential, so we should try to see everyone equally. If you always try to throw out prejudices you will find that they will be replaced by fresh and good idea.
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