When my post, “My Christianity is as valid as yours” went live, I received cheers of support through every type of electronic communication. Believe me, I sincerely appreciate those communiqués. The problem is that many of my supporters started judging those who were judging me.

My intent was not to stir emotions to roil more bias. I recognize that some religions have marginalized many. But harshly judging someone based on the fact that they judged someone else is ironic at best. 

We are born biased.

You may think that you don’t judge. But we all do. Scientists at Yale’s Infant Cognition Center have proven that we have an innate predisposition to bias. They found that 87 percent of babies (around five months of age) preferred those who were like them. The most worrisome part of this study was that these infants liked those who punished others who were different from them.

Perhaps you have a prejudice toward smokers, people who live in different areas (yes, I’ve seen the disapproving reactions of some East Coasters when I say I live in Reno), those with differing views or even people who dress differently from you. I believe our reactions can be so automatic that we don’t realize we’ve lapsed into prejudice.

We can override our bias.

The solution to this problem resides with being aware of our own reactions. I’m finding that with practice, I’m better—but not perfect—at recognizing those little tugs toward negativity and usually can halt those impulses shortly after they start.

I admit that after my spiritual rebirth I resented the pastor and his denomination for binding me in fear-based teachings. And, yes, I judged them. At times, I still feel that urge. The form it takes feels like justified righteous retaliation. But I strive to quell it. I’m no better than anyone else.

By returning judgment, I feed into their negativity and allow their darkness to grow within me.

When we judge the biased, we are becoming what we dislike about them.

I invite you to join me in stopping the spiral of incivility. Be aware of your emotions. Learn to recognize that condescending nudge within you. Then shut it down. What surprised me most about becoming cognizant of my reactions is that I experience freedom by letting them go.