Man—not a stereotype, but a genuine child of God

Human stereotypes blind us to others' individuality and worth. But what about the biggest stereotype of all? Are we alert to recognize and reject it?

Cultural and racial stereotypes can be so deep-seated that we don't even realize they are part of our thinking. Of even greater concern is how stereotypes hide the deeper value and richness of people's lives and individuality. In fact, this value and richness hints at people's real spirituality and deeper common heritage with the family of man.

I was reminded of this one evening when I went to a talk by a Native American, a generous man who is a member of the Munsee tribe of the Mohican nation. He's a father, a musician, and a singer. He is an educated man, and he's a painter and a sculptor as well. Yet he has also been the brunt of considerable racial stereotyping and prejudice, simply because he is so obviously identifiable with his Native American heritage.

As he talked that evening I could understand how vital it is for all of us not to accept stereotypes of ourselves or others. He told how he is often invited to schools at Thanksgiving time to talk about his culture—invitations he gladly accepts. Often when he arrives, many younger children are anxious and even scared because he is an "Indian." Many times one of the first questions asked of him by young children is, "How many people have you killed?" Even children, in all their innocence, have learned these harmful stereotypes.

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Vanquishing our Goliaths
October 21, 1991

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