MY CULTURAL CONDITIONING

In his 1966 essay, The Search and the Seeker, Greenleaf writes:

As I pause in my search I am also sharply aware of the great evil in my cultural conditioning which defines sanity partly in terms of isolation from one’s own vast awareness; which teaches one to demean a man because of the color of his skin or the family into which he was born; which holds the market place to be unworthy of the finest of man’s talents when operating in the world; which holds abstract knowledge that is extruded by reason and bounded by words in priority over the promptings of the human spirit; and which justifies violence in a way that buries it deep beyond our conscious knowing and leaves us with control as the primary basis for a civilized society.  [The Search and the Seeker, 1966 unpublished draft, p. 4]

If I were to pause in my search, what is the great evil I perceive in my cultural conditioning?  What does my culture teach me about the ‘stranger,’ the ‘other,’ and the ‘one that is not like me?’  To what extent do I emphasize ‘differences’ more than honor them?  To what extent does the ‘stranger,’ the ‘other,’ and the ‘one that is not like me’ generate fear within me – and, if so, fear about what?

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