First Blog

Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand with a grip that kills it

Oftentimes, we judge because we do not understand. We judge an entire religion based off of the actions of a few. We judge a person’s intelligence according to their standardized test scores. We judge the character of an individual based off of the color of their skin. These examples of judgement are the first layer of bigotry, followed by prejudice, intolerance, bias, and topped with narrow-mindedness.

Society, in particular, is an avid supporter of shunning those who hold different opinions that do not align with what is common. Intolerance blooms like a colorful bruise and basks in the attentive light of its followers. I fear what this intolerance entail mean for my friends whose pigments are darker and religions more foreign. In high school, light-hearted jokes are tossed around and shouldered by these students who are different from their peers. In the adult world, jokes become derogatory and no longer contain humor but instead display accusations. People are afraid of them, or more specifically, of who they are: African-American, Muslim, Transgender, different. The biting remarks and looks of disgust they receive are ones that continue to penetrate the thick skin that they have grown. Hypothetical accusations are hurled with such viciousness that the claims are often seen as truth. The bigoted masks they hide behind are papier-mâchéd with layers of deception that may take years to unravel and reveal the truth inside.

This notion of judgment is conveyed with Rabindranath Tagore’s quote, “Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand with a grip that kills it.” Tagore depicts bigotry as an ethereal being with the ability to perform a task as simple as holding an object, or in this case gripping truth with vigor. The combination of the words “safe” and “kill” in the same sentence leaves a feeling of weariness, as if trust is not to be reached lightly. And at this time of its penmanship, Tagore personally felt the bigoted attacks from the British upon the people of India. When gunfire was often the response to peaceful protests, as was the case of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, it must have seemed as if independence was far from reach. However, Tagore never stopped writing. His production of stories, plays, songs, and paintings continued as a beacon of light in the darkness of British monarchy.  He inspired many to continue their fight for the right to be seen as human in the spiteful eyes of their rulers. Although he did not live to see India’s independence gained, Tagore’s actions are highly regarded as revolutionary in today’s society.

Despite Tagore’s words of wisdom, even today, many refuse to heed his meaningful message. When I have gone grocery shopping, I have seen a woman in a niqab on the receiving end of scathing looks from other shoppers down the aisle. By the way they glared at her, the customers made it seem as if she were the enemy, rather than a human being shopping for paper plates in aisle eight. I have watched commercials of politicians attacking individuals based off of which bathroom they should be allowed to use. I have heard the sound of car doors locking as soon as a male with a darker skin color comes into sight as he walks down the sidewalk. So how do we quell the insatiable attacks that come from bigotry? How can we coax open the iron fist that crushes reality like a lifeline, but seldom relaxes enough to release the enclosed truth? The answer is simple, but the execution is complex: change the way we think through education.

We learned from the actions of others that many pathways previously walked were ones that contained cracks in the foundation of their construction. It soon became evident that truth was seeping past the bigoted, flawed structure and ever so slowly broke through the concrete clutches. As more spilled out the opening, a dam burst and the truth washed over the bigotry that was once the stronger of the two. In this case, it was education that brought forth the truth. People became educated about the prejudice behind racism and apartheid. People became educated about bias and the narrow-mindedness associated with it. People became educated about bigotry and the intolerance that manifests. No longer will it be “bigotry that tries to keep truth safe in its hand with a grip that kills it." It will be the truth that sets us free.