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What Characteristics Motivate People to Discriminate Against a Group and Rob People of Their Dignity?

An inward look on the causes and effects of bigotry and discrimination, both from a real life perspective and from details of the movie “Schindler’s List”.

    Bigotry is found everywhere. So many people are prejudiced against others for the sole reason of the other person being different from them. I’m sure everyone knows at least one person who has discriminated against others, inclusive of themselves. Whether bigotry is aimed against a different ethnicity, a different sexual preference, or a different religion, there will always be discrimination in our society. In order to find out what the cause of discrimination actually is, we need to analyze previous historical instances of prejudice, and recognize one’s motives for acting in such a way. A perfect example of bigotry present in our world’s history is the Holocaust, the persecution and attempted extermination of the Jewish people. Why did the Nazis feel the need to even bother with this group of people? Reasons for discrimination could easily range anywhere from upbringing to self-righteousness.

    One of the most influential elements which shape the way people live their lives is their upbringing. Needless to say, many children think the same way politically, spiritually, socially, or morally, as their parents do, with few exceptions. This can be very hazardous to society, because people are taught to be intolerant of others at such a young age when they don’t know any better, leaving them with these closed-minded beliefs their whole lives, to teach their kids, and so on. Therefore, because of the way children are taught during their upbringing, society remains poisoned with hate and bigotry. Intolerance, taught to young children by ignorant parents, only supplies the children with false justification and the refusal to accept others despite their differences. In the movie “Schindler’s List,” there was a scene where the Jews were forced to relocate to the ghettos. While they were walking by, a small girl was screaming “Goodbye, Jews!” and throwing things at them. The girl acted very much the same way her parents would have in that situation (and probably were, for that matter). This shows how hate and discrimination is taught to children, which is how the vicious cycle begins. Though the impact one’s early environment has on them is important, the influence of how the person sees him or herself is much greater.

    Bullying is the act of someone attacking someone else in order to achieve a better feeling about themselves. Bullying, believe it or not, is a very real application of prejudice in everyday life. Another scene from the movie has Nazi Amon Goeth in the cellar with a young Jewish girl. He wants to get to know her, but knows it is impossible because she is a Jew. He then proceeds to taunt her by likening her to a rat. People who subconsciously feel inferior often do horrible things to others, to make themselves feel superior. These repeated acts build up into a sense of self-righteousness that gets out of hand easily. Many of these people go so far as to thinking they are invincible. In such a famous case as Adolf Hitler’s, his arrogance was one of the main reasons for his eventual downfall. When someone decides to strip another human being of their pride, it is never for a justifiable cause, nor does it ever help anyone.

    Discrimination is nothing but an outlet for hate. There exist many organizations today, in which the sole purpose is to educate about bigotry, so it can eventually be stopped. The only way we can even hope to put an end to this crime against humanity is to learn about it and to be aware of the things victims of bigotry are forced to go through on a day-to-day basis. I’m positive that quite a few people involved in the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust later learned their lessons, and realized the unmistakable cruelty of their actions. Hopefully, we will learn from their mistakes, and be careful not to make the same ones.

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