Without doubt, the future of medicine will include mandatory education for physicians on their conscious and unconscious biases. The politically and culturally progressive nature of medical education and graduate medical education almost ensure that this will eventually be a deeply-ingrained part of our training and our continuing certification. I’m sure that as our culture purports to discover ever new and egregious forms of bias, we will be endlessly reminded, in our educational endeavors and ultimately our workplaces, that we have to “do better.”
I only point to medicine because it is the world in which I spend a great deal of time. I have seen medicine evolve over the years, gradually and surely bending to political and cultural trends. Obviously, this tendency to address bias is to be found in every segment of education, and has crept ever so persistently into the corporate world. These days, dissent on political or cultural hot-button topics can lose a person connections, promotions, contracts, friends or even employment. Failing to follow the cultural mainstream can mean the end for a CEO, or a boycott for a corporation.
I am in no way suggesting we can’t learn to be sensitive to the situations, backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs of others. But I think it is ridiculous to try and dig through our collective psyche for every instance of wrong-think, and subject the masses to collective re-education (however inclusive and delightful we try to make it sound).
However, it doesn’t matter what I think. This will proceed. But if we’re going to do this; if we’re going to hammer the citizenry to drive out their assorted biases in the name of fairness, then we need to remember that it all goes both ways.
So as a conservative Christian and rural Appalachian white male, I’ll offer this compromise. I’ll try to identify the places where I have underlying bias. As long as those on the progressive side recognize their own bias.
What bias? They shake their heads, tut-tutting! I’m sensitive all around! But rest assured, there is ample bias directed at people like me, and at my family and our particular place in American culture.
There is bias against large families. There is a bias against rural citizens in general. Bias against blue-collar workers. Bias against those who don’t have college degrees; or those whose college degrees come from state schools or (perish the thought!) community and technical colleges or vocational schools. Bias against those with a religious worldview (this is particularly galling as it is a tendency of humans to worship for at least 20,000 years and probably more). This bias extends far beyond white Southern males and ultimately is an affront to people of every race and the faith traditions that they practice.
There is bias against those with a politically conservative or economically capitalist. Bias against families with more than two children. Bias against the military. Bias against police officers. Bias against those who are pro-life. And goodness knows, there’s bias against those who own firearms. These are not instances of bias based on some deep understanding of the aforementioned groups. These biases typically come from a simple belief that “well, everyone knows those people are a problem.”
However, bias is a problem. And it’s widespread.
But if you want me to address my own bias, first address yours.
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