There is a secondary consequence of holding rigid, absolute, and dogmatic beliefs about how our fellow diverse and fallible humans absolutely should or must be. That consequence is that our rigid beliefs spawn a cascade of distorted inferences of what is going on in reality. Our subjective perception of other people is likely to be distorted by our underlying rigid, bigoted, and dogmatic beliefs. So we begin to “see” what we believe must or absolutely should exist rather than having a more open mind about what is out there. If we hold an ethnocentric rigid belief like “Other people absolutely must have interests and values identical to those that I hold and be as I am” not only are we likely to create other and self-harming anger when we encounter others who come from diverse backgrounds but we are also more prone to misperceive these people and not view them as they are. We are more likely to automatically experience overgeneralized thinking about other people who do not hold the “right” interests and values and also perceptually distort by magnifying or minimizing the available observable data about people who do not conform to our assumptions. Think back to the old Chinese proverb that says “Two thirds of what a person sees exists behind that person’s eyes.” Our rigid, dogmatic and bigoted beliefs are part of the two thirds of what a person sees and these beliefs exist within the individual apart from external reality.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy argues that all humans have equal worth regardless of their identity, gender, sexual orientation, race, social class, personal tastes, personal values, skills and abilities. People are complex and have a dynamic quality that defies a simplistic, overgeneralized global rating of good, bad, better, lesser, more valuable, etc. The best we can do is rate with our subjective values an observable behavior a person may exhibit at a point in time or an aspect of a person that is displayed at a point in time. However, people as people cannot be validly measured, rated, scored, or summed based on a displayed behavior or an aspect displayed at a point in time. Such a scoring of people is unjust, impossible and invalid. It hurts the person who is scored and the person doing the scoring. REBT argues that you will live better with your fellow fallible and very diverse humans and have less emotional upset if you learn to accept people “as is” and never judge them as people. When you unconditionally accept people as people regardless of their identity, gender, sexual orientation, race, social class, tastes, values, skills and abilities you will be more aware of how as a fallible human you are at risk of misperceiving and under appreciating others. If you have tolerant beliefs you will also be better able to discuss the observable behaviors that you like or do not like, agree with or disagree with but you will do so with an open and compassionate heart and mind.
So I advocate that you acknowledge that we as fallible humans are at risk to judge our fellow fallible humans in unfair ways. Strive to learn to give up such intolerant beliefs. Strive to model tolerant beliefs for your well-being and for the well-being of others. When you do you will liberate yourself from self-harming and other-harming anger and the misperceptions and misunderstanding that flow from such intolerant beliefs. You will have a better chance to peacefully coexist with people who are from various backgrounds and will be more inclined to celebrate the diversity of the human race. You will be better able to not contribute to oppression and even preferably work to eliminate it!
REBT encourages you to question your beliefs. Evaluate them and see that rigid and absolute beliefs are in part what the Chinese proverb was alluding to in the saying that “Two thirds of what a person sees exists behind that person’s eyes.” Think about it.