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I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Assumption and Prejudice

An online conversation I had recently with a good friend shed some light on a broader topic that has bothered me for some time regarding human nature.  It regards prejudices and assumptions made without knowing all of the facts.  It regards the idea  that so many will make a judgment with a false or only partially understood premise.  Decisions made by others who do not have full and clear understanding can have serious implications and impacts on those for whom these decisions apply.

The idea for writing about this began with a simple conversation I was having with a friend online.  We were chatting about a vacation I had just returned from on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  The Outer Banks are a popular island chain situated on the east coast of North Carolina.  My friend remarked in one of her comments that she was glad I had a good time but that she had visited the city of Charlotte at some point in the past and that there were "too many bugs there and that our location was not her cup of tea".

What struck me about this statement was that Charlotte is a city, located 377 miles drive inland and away from the coast where we stayed.  The statement eluded to the fact that a determination was made about a place by an experience held in a totally different geographic realm.  The only thing they shared in reality was the fact that they were both within the invisible dotted line boundaries of the same state.

It was a blanket statement, one which we see often made to and against others.  Harmless as this comment was, it outlined for me, in my mind, how we as humans will often group things in a bucket without first understanding what unique entities make up the contents of that bucket.  Such stereotyping occurs at both microscopic levels as well as macroscopic levels.  Something as seemingly trite as blanket generalizing blindly about a place has larger implications in how we generalize about race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Saying something to the effect blindly to the effect that one would not visit the outer banks because a city nearly 400 miles away they once visited had too many bugs is akin to saying, "I have seen the Bronx in New York, so I know what Niagara Falls must be like".

In a similar vein, so many in this world are quick to assume they know what a transgender person is, or how a gay or lesbian person must live their personal life.  Fear sets in as people make unknowing assumptions about what they feel the truth must be and, as a result, this fear drives a wedge into our fight for equality as simply human beings.   We lose our identity as humans, like everyone else, who have dreams and aspirations to live our lives in much the same ways and to similarly high standards as others.  In effect, we become "objectified" as others to be afraid of.... to have fingers pointed at us in disgust..... and to be ostracized as a result.

Breaking this most base level of human nature is a difficult and never-ending battle.  it requires constant positive energy to fight the preconceptions and fears which are held deeply.  Even if we are unable for others to come to accept who we are, it is our inalienable right as human beings who share this planet with our fellow humans, to be able to live our lives with dignity and respect for who we are.

Take each day as the challenge to help enlighten another... to go out in the world and make a positive impression such that when you walk away, it leaves a person who may have held a negative long-standing assumption and judgment with, perhaps, a change of heart, and just a little bit more understanding than before.

Change happens one person at a time.  Be the progenitor of those changes and dwell in the possibilities of what can yet be by helping others, one at a time, to begin in truth to see.


2 comments:

Sophie Lynne said...

Assumptions, preconceptions, prejudices.

They are very human, and very hurtful.

it comes down to time- people don't want to spend the time needed to learn about others and to make connections.

Was it Ghandi who said "Be the change you want to see in the world?"

Suzi said...

I feel that you hit the nail on the head with your last paragraph. Change truly does happen one person at a time. I've always had mixed feelings about passing laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBT or ANY person for any reason. I believe the only way we move forward is if we teach the world one person at a time. When that person learns the truth, they are much more likely to stand up for us when others denigrate us. You can't MAKE people love you by passing laws. They will love you when they are ready. I often use the example of the parent/child relationship. You can make a child behave by disciplining them, but you can't make them love you. Teaching them to love you is a whole different ball game.

Understanding, accepting, and embracing our TG nature will only come when people learn to love one another because they are people...when they give up those stereotypes and misconceptions of who we are. Unfortunately there are always a few that DO fit the stereotype, and those are the ones that make the news.

Thanks for a great post. :)Suzi

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