Five Impediments to Prosperity: Racism, Classism, Sexism, Religionism and Nationalism

    The consciousness and conscience of the world are developing to the point where it will no longer tolerate lies, injustice and disunity.  These things have been with us throughout history, but the general sense that they are no longer acceptable is a recent development. The growth of social movements, the increased awareness and concern for social justice, and the advances made in world unity and order are all signs of this change.  These signs all suggest the readiness of humankind to rid itself of the impediments to prosperity.

     The first step in this process is to eliminate these impediments from ourselves. Only when we have successfully dealt with these problems within ourselves, will we be able to influence those around us positively. How we see, feel about and act toward others must be changed. Seeing things differently can lead to feeling differently about them, and ultimately, to putting our new knowledge and attitudes into action. Five major ways of seeing and feeling that stand in the way of prosperity are regarding and treating one race, class, sex, religion or nation as superior to others.

Racism is the belief that one race is superior to another and harms both the oppressed and the oppressor.  It divides humanity unjustly without scientific or moral foundation and leads to conflict.  This belief legitimizes unfair treatment of the so-called inferior race and division between the races, and is one of the worst and longest standing of the impediments to prosperity. Progress in eliminating this evil has been made during the past few decades.  The current outrage concerning racist practices have helped change the racial policies and practices that have been existing for centuries. New laws and institutions are being established to overcome the racial barrier to prosperity.

The gross inequities that presently exist between the higher and lower classes create a condition that is unlikely to allow for prosperity for all but a few. Extremes of wealth and poverty create instability, suffering and injustice on a level that is unacceptable. The poor and deprived will not passively sit by without food and necessities while the rich have more than they need or can use. The lower classes are beginning to refuse to receive unfair treatment and are demanding that more opportunities and justice being given them.

Sexism is an injustice to one-half of the world’s population that is being eradicated much too slowly. Sexism, like racism, is based on genetic physical characteristics associated with inferiority. Male-dominated institutions throughout the ages have encouraged this practice. Only as women are accepted into full partnership with men will the society be balanced enough to allow prosperity to flourish.

Religion has had a broad and enduring influence on humanity and the development of civilizations.  It is paradoxical that the same religions that have been the cause of the advancement of individual and collective development should also be the cause of blocking that development at this stage in history. Religious teachings based on love and peace should not be the cause of hatred and war. Religious leaders must stop propagating misconceptions in their followers and allowing minor differences to become the cause of hatred.

Loyalty to one’s country is important, but it need not be the cause of prejudice, hatred, or war.  Like all loyalties, national loyalty need not exclude broader, more inclusive loyalties, such as loyalty to the world. Excessive nationalism was acceptable and necessary previously, but it is harmful and inappropriate at this stage of development.  Through advances in science and technology, particularly in transportation and communications, the planet has become a like one country.  Every nation is connected and interdependent with every other nation. Antagonistic and self-centered nationalism must be overcome in this age when the changing conditions call for a world unity and cooperation.

We cannot expect prosperity to result from these false theories and unjust practices.  These prejudices and practices are supported by lies, irrationalities, fear and ignorance to serve the selfish and limited interests of one group over another. Establishing prosperity is primarily a process of changing how we think about it, which will affect how we feel about it, and ultimately guide our actions to creating it. Overcoming these five misconceptions and injustices, will lead to increased well being and prosperity.


About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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2 Responses to Five Impediments to Prosperity: Racism, Classism, Sexism, Religionism and Nationalism

  1. Can we add evaluativism to the list?

  2. Josh Neff says:

    “Sexism is an injustice to one-half of the world’s population” – No, men suffer from sexism as well. The persistent and pernicious notion that men are not afflicted by sexism serves only to encourage misogynistic behavior. As you stated “Only when we have successfully dealt with these problems within ourselves, will we be able to influence those around us positively.” – Sexism must be dealt with similar to a whack-a-mole fashion… it must be struck down whenever and wherever it happens… regardless of who or what gender is involved.

    Other than that, I like what you have to say here.

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