Central Pennsylvanians share opinions on prejudice, opposing views

Written by Megan Lello | Dec 27, 2012 4:45 AM

(Undated) -- Just as Ephrata Public Library conducted its own Community Memory Project, witf has also completed its own survey utilizing the Public Insight Network (PIN)on how central Pennsylvanians handle conflict and interact with those with opposing viewpoints. Here are some highlights: 


-Many people are completely open about the views they hold. Zak from Lancaster says, "I judge religious people as being ignorant. I've had several bad experiences with deceitful/closed-minded/controlling religious figures. I haven't tried to change it; I'm not sure that it's a bad (inaccurate) prejudice to have." A few people cite problems with those who don't respect the environment. Suzi from Willow Street, Lancaster County says, "People who have no passion for conserving land [...] are (to me) ignorant, stubborn, uninformed, and narrow-minded." Cynthia from McAlisterville, Juniata County takes issue with "people and organizations who have no concern for the environment." She adds, "The natural world is my greatest pleasure and it is important for the health of all." Zach from Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County says he takes issue with people who are closed-minded in general. "These people/groups of people may have overt prejudices against other people, groups, or viewpoints, or they may just think that their view is the correct and only way and it is very frustrating. It has definitely turned into a prejudice of mine over the years."

-Several people say instead of trying to engage with people who possess drastically different viewpoints, they try to avoid them altogether. Gary from Millerstown, Perry County says, "When [the conversation] becomes heated or confrontational, it is time to walk away and just set an example in the way you live your life." Zak agrees, saying, "I avoid the topic or try to change the subject. When I'm dealing with someone I know is religious, I try to avoid talking to them." Zach says he sometimes likes to challenge others' opinions, saying, "I enjoy opposite viewpoints and often play 'devil's advocate' to try and expand conversation and people's mindsets. I often find people at least taking a harder look at how they feel when I do this. It is when there are those who will not even acknowledge that there is another side that frustrates me."

--A few people say they were able to overcome prejudices or change their mind about certain issues. Cynthia reveals, "Leaving Kentucky and attending Penn State University helped me to overcome racial prejudice." Gary shares a story that's helped him look at life differently: "We have several guest cottages on our farm between Harrisburg and State College. One of our guests this summer works in NYC but is from India. Upon his second visit as we got to know each other he shared what his life was like after 9/11. Because he looks different and has an accent he was cursed, spit at, and told to go back where he came from. I immediately thought about the Japanese and the internment camps during WWII. I have come to the conclusion that I will never paint with a broad brush an entire group or race of people but will try to see things from their perspective and see what effect my actions would have on that."

Help inform witf's coverage and share your views by joining the Public Insight Network.

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