The Fine Line of Self-serving Prejudice

Over the weekend, I attended a wedding where my husband was one of the protocols. Despite the typical joyous occasion, the highlight of the event was a parking issue that unfolded at the venue.

It was way passed the time when we arrived with the wedding crew, owing to the unpredictable weather that caused a wardrobe malfunction. Apparently, using the parking space after a specific hour was prohibited unless the family of the newlyweds gave approval.

The security let the bridesmaids and groomsmen's vehicle pass. But the car I was in, with my husband and another protocol, was denied entry. Everyone tried to make it clear to the guard that we were part of the crew. However, he was adamant about letting us find another spot.

Seeing everyone trying to reason with the guard and persuade him was exhausting. He decided that no one was getting inside, and I quote "even if it was our own wedding."

He was not willing to listen and did not budge to even talk to the bride's mother using our phone. She had to dial on his cell and explain. We finally managed to get in. But I was already annoyed as we spent the better part of the hour arguing over a simple matter.

The situation is a reflection of the behaviour observed in most institutions. People usually have a standard or are accustomed to a specific way of carrying out their duties. But they are not prepared for the exception.

They fail to treat situations case by case which can be attributed to a lack of critical thinking. Although the guard was merely doing his job, he failed to comprehend the issue or make amendments.

Meanwhile, there are people who are mediocre at their job. They only perform to the best of their ability when supervisors are around. A case in point is the woman who asked to have my bag checked one day after letting me pass without doing so for the previous four days.

My inquisitive personality would not let it pass and I asked why the sudden change of protocol occurred. The guard beside her teasingly said he appreciated knowing that she had not been doing her job well in the past. I felt horrible upon realising that I might have cost her a job.

The often discordant dance between idea and action characterises humanity; it is a fascinating tapestry of paradoxes. This dissonance stems from hypocrisy, where people support a set of values while acting contrary to them.

It is a trait that fits well with social interactions that often go unrecognised and uncontested. Hypocrisy may be subtle. It hides in the politician who talks of integrity but does backroom deals, in the parent who instils the value of hard work in the children but neglects their own obligations, and in the friend who speaks kind words up front but gossips behind back.

We rail against their double standards and audacity to preach what they do not practice. But in moments of reflection, we have to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that we might be doing it.

In our haste to denounce the hypocrisy of others, we usually overlook our own. We hold ourselves to a different standard and magnify the faults of others. The self-serving prejudice we harbour keeps us from recognising it.


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