Friday, February 26, 2010

Judging a Book by its Cover

In life there is one fatal mistake we can all make and and that is judging a book by its cover. Assumptions and preconceived notions can consume our thoughts when we first meet new people. However those thoughts can be supressed. I must admit abstaining from preconceived notions is extremely challenging especially wihin a society that puts labels on everybody. These social classifications can inhibit our interpersonal relationships. What you will find is that preconceived notions are usually false perceptions of individuals. This causes us to be close minded and view everyhing in black and white rather than having some gray area where we are not sure about a person but take the initiaive to disocover somebody's true self. Blinded by social percpetion and visual deception we end up judging a book by its cover as you will see in the following scenarios.

One example of a preconceived notion is one where a male walking down a street is covered in tattooes and pants below his waist and appears to most people as a thug. The male walking next to him is a person in a three piece suit who would appear to be a businessman. At first glance this seems to be fact. Although this is just an illusion it is a combination of our preconceived notions and societal labels propagated by the media that have led us to believe that this is true. Well as story has it the male showered in tattooes is a CEO of the most successful company in America while the guy in a business suit is an e cereal killer who has yet to be accused of the crimes he has committed.

This is where judging a book by its cover can go terribly wrong. These rash assumptions cause us to say and do things we will regret. A possible scenario could be one where you are at a networking event for the company you work for and you approach the guy in a business suit and invite him to your house because he seems to be respectable and in the long run attmepts to murder one of your children. This appears to be extreme but based upon our assumption it seems safe to have this guy in your house. He appears to be a decent, hard-working, and respectable buisness man. On the other hand we dont even think about approaching the guy with tattooes because he seems like a good for nothing hoodlum. When in fact he owns his own company and could possibly help you make payments on your defaulting mortgage. This person's preconceived notion almost costed her her child's life.

Another scenario is where there is a woman at a party you are attending and this person dances with mulitple guys and sips from a cup while dancing. The first assumption is she is wild, then others may think she is promiscuous, while some conservative folk may say she is immoral. The woman sitting in the corner by herself has not danced with anybody and she appears to be an innocent angel. We as humans get in trouble when we confuse fact for story. This is the single driving force for judging a book by its cover: it is all in the mind. The reality of the sitaution is that the woman is there with her four brothers celebrating her acceptance to medical school, having a good time, and drinking water to rehydrate herself. As far as her personal life she is a Christian woman and a virgin. The woman who was quiet is the one who is actually the promiscuous one and drank lots of beer during the party. She was sitting down because the room was spinning.

The last scenario has two men (one man in a polo reading the New York Times and the other man is listening to loud music and wearing a trench coat and has body piercings) on a train car during rush hour standing opposite a man who has his wallet hanging out the side of his pocket. The middle aged man gets off on the same stop that both of the men get off and he notices that his wallet is missing. The guy in the trench coat is running and the other guy in the polo is strolling. The guy who lost his wallet yells to a cop that the guy in the trench coat stole his wallet when he had no real premise to believe so. The guy in the trench coat is apprehended by the police and is searched thoroughly but the wallet is not found; he is released. The guy who had his wallet stolen is not only embarrased but angry because he was unable to find the culprit. Days later on the 6 oclcok news there is a breaking story of a guy in a polo who looks familiar. The guy who had his wallet stolen recognizes him as the guy who wore the polo and got off on the same stop he did. The guy in the polo was arrested and charged with identity theft and grand larceny and is known to prey on subway riders by stealing wallets. Later on in the news there is another story of a guy in a trench coat and recent Harvard graduate who won a pulltizer prize for a ground breaking novel. The guy recognizes this man as the one who he falsely accused of stealing his wallet.

These scenarios can have a dterimental effect on society by contributing to unjust discrimination, biased hiring practices, unjust incarceration and even losing out on meeting your soulmate. I would urge people to investigate one another and get to know each other before we judge others' characters, intellects, or intentions. This is a grave concerrn of mine because I have been misjudged plenty of times and I have misjudged people in the past also. As a result of these preconceived notions I have either looked like a fool or lost out on a business opportunity or building a frienship with a good person. In order for mankind to progress we must get to know each other's stories before we jump to conclusions. We must eradicate preconceived notions and abide by two principle mantras " let's get to know each other and do not judge a book by its cover"!

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