Misjudging On What We See
There have been quite a few conversations about how we judge people by the way they look. It might be a style of dress, hairstyle, tattoos, piercings, or skin color. In the end, it comes down to attributing certain negative characteristics to anyone who looks like someone you’ve decided is mean, scary, or dangerous.
Sometimes, it stems from a bad experience. When I was in elementary school, a neighbor girl who happened to be Hispanic used to knock me down and bash my head on the sidewalk. Had I had different, less accepting parents, I might have developed a hatred and distrust of anyone who looked Hispanic. Thankfully, my parents had a diverse group of friends when we lived in the Valley so I never attributed one person’s behavior to an entire culture.
More often these days, it stems from what we hear, the area we live in, or a combination of factors. Too many people rely on the media to determine how they think and believe these days, causing everyone to hate each other for some unspecified reason, or no reason at all.
Negative Impacts of Forced Diversity Training
Businesses are forced to teach cultural diversity in the workplace. Yet the way they go about it often makes things worse instead of better. Someone along the way decided cultural diversity training meant teaching white people to treat everyone else with more sensitivity and respect, instead of making it applicable to all. Rather than bringing everyone closer together, it’s widened the gap into a chasm, and made the disparity even more noticeable and impossible to breach.
In her Red Table Talks, Jada Pinkett Smith talks a lot about the disparities between whites and blacks. But she doesn’t slap the blame on one side of the table. Instead, she admits there are generations-old prejudices on both sides, and that the solution requires both sides to release those prejudices and come together with open minds.
In one episode in particular (though not her only one on the subject), “The Racial Divide: Women of Color and White Women”, three generations of black women discuss their own ingrained prejudices. Those biases, often instilled since birth stand in the way of meeting white women halfway to try and resolve conflicts which were once based on traumatic experiences, but generalized to include all who looked a certain way. Two white women join the conversation, with an emphasis on “conversation”.
Replacing Conflict With Conversation
In order to truly embrace the diversity of our cultures, we need more conversations. We need more coming together, not because it’s dictated by a government or other entity, but because we truly want to understand each others’ beliefs and pain points. But more, because we want to bridge the gaps those beliefs and pain points have generated through the passing of prejudices from generation to generation.
We need to stop the knee-jerk tendency to blame some artificially designated group for our problems, society’s problems, or anyone else who thinks they need a scapegoat. Assigning scapegoats solves nothing, but it sure does create a lot more hate, anger, and chaos.
The question becomes, do we truly want to solve the problems we see and rant about, or is ranting our real purpose? As human beings, do we simply require something to complain about? Can we not be happy when we work in concert with other humans? With nature? Is drama our state of balance?
Taking the Time to Analyze the Cause in the Conflict
I can’t speak for everyone else. I only know it doesn’t work for me. I’m not at ease when I’m in conflict with others. I experience discomfort when I’m out of sorts with someone in my own social circle, much less a large chunk of society. Yet I haven’t figured out how to get back in balance. There are too many conflicting factions, all demanding I take their side, and speak out in the same manner they do.
Sorry folks. I was given a brain so I could think, reflect, research, and form my own opinions just like everyone else was. I refuse to allow anyone to take that choice; that ability away from me. Those who need blanket agreement from their associates are not going to find me a good fit. I think for myself and act as I see fit.
Learning to Replace Hurt and Anger With Forgiveness
Do I make mistakes? Of course I do. And I try to own up to them insofar as the other party or parties is willing to accept my apology and move on. Again, it’s not always the case. Some people hold onto a negative experience and will judge me as lacking forever more. I’ve done the same myself until I find a way to forgive myself and the other party. We’re all human, which means, we aren’t perfect. All we can do is try.
I hurt a friend’s feelings a few days ago. Not intentionally. More out of clumsiness, and forgetting to recognize she’s a bit raw right now. In hindsight, I realize I was heavy-handed with my teasing because I was hurting too. But I told myself I was stupid for feeling hurt instead of honoring my own feelings, and tried to move on. Without thinking, I took it out on her, partly because she was an innocent party to why I was hurt. So I’m worrying that she’ll think less of me for my clumsiness, though I know she’s one of the most forgiving (almost to a fault) people I have the good fortune to call “friend”.
Avoiding the Pitfalls When We Ass-U-me
My point here is we tend to make assumptions, most of them false when we’re not acknowledged or answered. It happens often enough between friends, so take the number of instances and multiply it by 50 billion or so. That will give you a conservative idea of how many misunderstandings and misconceptions happen every day in our nation, much less, our world.
We seem to have lost the ability to create a safe environment where we can say “I’m hurt and upset by…” or “I don’t feel comfortable with…” or simply “Can you help me understand why…”
Until we can feel comfortable being honest about all the ingrained beliefs—all the baggage we’re carrying around, whether experienced or inherited, we’ll continue to see a seemingly insurmountable disparity between cultures; between generations; between genders; between everything else we use to build walls that separate us. We have to start by removing a few of our own bricks first.
Keeping the Lines of Communication Open
Are there more disconnects than connections in your life? Are you overwhelmed just trying to keep up with the day-to-day? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!
Remembering How Much We Have to be Grateful For
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for the ability to see what needs to change, and that I can only start with myself.
- I am grateful for the things I’ve seen, the places I’ve gone, and the people I’ve met along the way.
- I am grateful I’m starting to learn to listen more and talk less, though it’s an ongoing process, and I need lots of reminders.
- I am grateful for the mistakes I’ve made. They help me learn to do better next time.
- I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, lessons, challenges, vocabulary, mistakes, life, inspiration, motivation, crazy dreams, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward