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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stereotyping is a selfish act.

Last week I read a "Letter to the Editor" in our local newspaper from a man who felt he knew what kind of person makes a Democrat.  He said Obama voters come in four varieties: the ignorant, African-American, elitist liberals, or "give-me citizens" wanting everything for free.   His narrow-minded list angered me enough to send in a response to his letter.   It ran in the newspaper 2 days later.  I heard from many friends (and even one stranger) thanking me for the response.

In my letter, I wrote that I do not fall into any of his four categories and I was offended that he felt he knew me.  He did not.  I told him a little bit about me, and then at the end of the letter I wrote "Let's all accept each other without stereotyping them.  Let's respect our differences."

It got me thinking about stereotyping, and profiling people.   I do it.  I can look at someone and in a flash think I know something about them.   I think that a person's physical appearance can be a statement.  How they dress, how they wear their hair, and what kind of jewelry they wear.   The kind of car they drive, certainly the house they live in...   all are visuals that "speak volumes."    I size them up quickly:  how much money they have,  where they come from, and even what they believe.

It's not fair.   I also look at someone's cleanliness and their size and form an opinion.   It's not right, but
I do it. I do it even though I do not know who they are.  I do not know their history or their core.

Stereotyping is a hard nut to crack.  It's hard to stop the mind from seeing a person and then immediately making a decision:  good person?  weird? lazy? conservative?  unstable?   poor? 

When Lent started last week I decided to give up chocolate for 40 days (and it is something I will miss, believe me) BUT I think I will also mentally "try" to stop myself from stereotyping. This will be a lot harder!!  I know I can't completely, but if I make a conscious effort then maybe I can learn to accept people as they are.

It ties in well with the Frank Warren "Purpose Driven Life" class I am taking now.  I need to work on thinking life is not about ME. My purpose on earth is not to make people fit into MY categories, or for ME to compare myself to them.  It's not about me.

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