Tag Archives: Dalai Lama

How You Probably Discriminate and Don’t Even Know It

Are you a part of a group at work, school, or recreationally? Well, then you’ve probably discriminated without even knowing it. A recent theoretical review of the literature concluded “ingroup favouritism is more potent than outgroup hostility” when it comes to discrimination in the United States. Meaning, preferential treatment to the people that are on your team contributes to discrimination more than outward displays of hostility to people not part of your team.

I should say that this ingroup favouritism doesn’t simply apply to overt teams/groups. Consider your work relationships for a moment. Let’s say that your son or daughter gets along quite well with the son or daughter of one of your subordinates. This particular subordinate missed a bunch of days of work this year because they were taking care of their child who was sick. When it comes time for performance reviews and this particular subordinate’s performance falls between two possible ratings, you give the subordinate a higher rating. However, there is another subordinate, without a child who’s friends with your child. This subordinate has also missed some work this year, but instead of giving them the higher rating, you give them the lower (of the two) ratings. By giving a higher rating to the subordinate to whom there is a connection, you’d be exhibiting ingroup favouritism. You’re not openly discriminating against the other subordinate, but you are showing preferential treatment (even if it’s inadvertently!) to one subordinate over the other.

This particular bit of research seemed especially important given Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent essay in The Atlantic. As I grew up in a fairly multicultural environment, I like to think that I don’t let a person’s race or ethnicity factor into any decisions I make. However, I, as many others have learned from Harvard’s Project Implicit Test, the culture that I live in has had an important influence on me.

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There are obvious streams for this kind of research, but I was thinking about it in a broader context. As it stands, there’s the idea of ingroup and outgroup. That is, “our people” are over here and I’m going to do everything I can for them, while you’re people are over there and I’m not going to necessarily do everything that I can to help them. What if there no longer was an ingroup and an outgroup? Or maybe more specifically, what if everyone was part of your ingroup?

Consider someone like the Dalai Lama. There’s the ‘obvious’ ingroups for the Dalai Lama (Tibet, Buddhism, etc.), but I’d bet that the Dalai Lama probably thinks of all humans as his ingroup. Of course, we can’t all be the Dalai Lama, but we certainly could strive for this.

Let’s simplify this example just a little bit. Americans — is an ingroup — when you put it in context of a global stage. Americans look at themselves as an ingroup when it comes to some sort of international competition. That is, at the upcoming World Cup in June, Americans will be an ingroup, especially when there are matches against other countries. What if, instead of Americans thinking of themselves as the ingroup, they, instead, thought of the ingroup as fans of soccer (or football, depending upon where you’re from — although most Americans probably say soccer). While this is still an ‘ingroup,’ it’s certainly a broader and bigger ingroup than simply American (fans of soccer).

While not perfect, this is also on the way to expanding the ingroup to all of humanity.

ResearchBlogging.orgGreenwald AG, & Pettigrew TF (2014). With Malice Toward None and Charity for Some: Ingroup Favoritism Enables Discrimination. The American psychologist PMID: 24661244

What Does the Dalai Lama Want for his Birthday?

The Dalai Lama turned 78 (does he look 78?) this past Saturday. If you were invited to his birthday party, what do you think he’d ask you to get for him? He’s clearly not a man who seeks out material possessions, so a new car/house wouldn’t be in order. Would you believe that all he wanted was empathy? No? Then, you should watch his birthday message.

Please, keep your own mind, your own heart, more compassionate. More sort of, spirit of, seriously or genuinely, sense of concern of others well-being. And with that sort of motivation, if possible, serve other, helping other, other people, also other animal, if you do not have the opportunity to serving, then at least, resisting harming them.

The laughing at the end is priceless. He has such an infectious laugh.

6 Principles for Living from 2nd Century Indian Philosopher Nagarjuna

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been spending this summer working for , (which, by the way, is a fantastic organization — be sure to check out what they do). On part of my route, I take the , which could use some upgrading. While I’m only on the Metro for a few stops, it gives me time to read. Usually, I read . However, since I’ve moved recently and my mail hasn’t caught up with me yet, I’ve gone back to reading books.

I mentioned that I was reading a by the Dalai Lama. Yesterday, I found a passage that I thought would be good to share:

When it comes to avoiding harmful actions of body and speech, in addition this fundamental rule [the Golden Rule], I personally find a list of six principles from a text by the second-century Indian thinker Nagarjuna to be helpful. In this text, Nagarjuna is offering advice to an Indian monarch of the time. The six principles are as follows:

  • Avoid excessive use of intoxicants.
  • Uphold principles of right livelihood.
  • Ensure that one’s body, speech, and mind are nonviolent.
  • Treat others with respect.
  • Honor those worthy of esteem, such as parents, teachers, and those who are kind.
  • Be kind to others.

Distinguishing the Action from the Actor

I had a moment of “world’s colliding” this afternoon when I sat down to catch up on some reading I started quite a while ago. The passage is worth repeating, so I thought I’d include it and then get back to the “world’s colliding” part.

The important point about the principle of compassion, as a basis for the exercise of justice, is that it is directed not toward actions, but toward the actor. Compassion demands that we condemn wrong actions and oppose them with all means necessary, while at the same time forgiving and maintaining an attitude of kindness toward the perpetrators of those actions. Just as, in theistic terms, God forbids sin while still loving the sinner, so we too should forcefully oppose wrong while maintaining concern for the wrongdoer. It is right to do this because, again, all human beings are capable of change. I think we all know this is from our own experience. After all, it is not uncommon for those who lead reckless lives when young to become responsible and caring as they gain in maturity and experience. In history, too, there are many examples of individuals whose early lives were morally reprehensible, but who later brought great benefit to others. We might think of Emperor Ashoka, for example, or Saint Paul, or numerous others. (p. 64-5)

I’ve been reading this (off and on) since at least April and there have been some really good passages, which is probably to the surprise of no one. I found this passage particularly important because of how the Dalai Lama uses religion to help build the bridge for his audience from what he’s talking about to their way of understanding the world.

Now, to the part about “world’s colliding.” I’ve mentioned before that I’m working at this summer, but before beginning with this organization, I had no idea who/what Ashoka [the person] was. Ironically, this summer I’m taking an elective in social entrepreneurship and one of our required texts is ‘s . The ironic part is that this book is often used to help explain what it is that Ashoka (the organization) does. [Brief aside: Although, with the recent publication of , many turn to it (Rippling) as it has an updated understanding of the mission of Ashoka (the organization).]

The point about Bornstein’s book is that he sits down with Ashoka’s founder (Bill Drayton) and speaks with him about how he came to found the organization. One of the questions posed/answered is how/why Drayton came to call the organization Ashoka. So of course, the reader then learns a bit about who Ashoka (the Emperor) is and a bit about Bill Drayton’s thinking. So while I didn’t know who Ashoka (the Emperor) was when I started reading the Dalai Lama’s book (or when I started working for Ashoka the organization), I have come across Ashoka (the Emperor) in a number of places. One of the other places comes from in world history: Week #6 was about .