Saturday, February 5, 2011

Stereotypes (...the why)

We look at people and we make a judgement.
It's just how we operate.
We need to categorize, compartmentalize, classify, rank and file.

We see their clothes... their demeanor... the expression on their face.
And we make the call.
We watch the way they interact... hear how they speak... see where they stand in the room.
And we put them in a place in our heads.

Yes, we can be right with our stereotypes.
So many people do seem to fit into a mold... on the surface.

On the surface they fit nicely into our categories.
On the surface they fill that slot we've assumed they would in our pre-made compartments.

Maybe that's why we rarely ever go below the surface.
Something in us wants people to stay in the category, in the compartment, in the classification.
Something in us selfishly wants to mentally manage people with ease...
keep them ranked and filed in that certain place...
so we don't go below the surface.

We don't venture too far down because we would discover why they wear that expression so often...
why they interact that way...
why they use those words.
If we dared to look closer, go deeper, we would discover the individual behind the stereotype.
And, however fitting that stereotype would be,
that image would start to fade
and an individual would stand in its place.

There's something about our human nature, our fallen nature, that wants so badly to rank everyone around us. To instantly know where they fit... where they should fit.

The challenge is to go deeper... and see the person not for who we assume them to be, but for why they are who we assume them to be.
Their story.
Their history.
Their life.

Because the reality isn't that stereotypes are false.
In reality, they're very true and tend to fit.
My hope is that we'll look past the surface stereotype to the why behind it...
and we'll learn to love and cherish and help and care
as our assumptions turn to compassion.

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