Monday, March 29, 2010

Categorizing people

As humans, one thing we do is place people in categories. It's not something we can choose not to do; it's part of our cognitive makeup. Indeed, if we don't categorize, we don't perceive. But the old categories aren't any good any more. Can't use color (not because it's non-PC to use color), but because any color distinctions aren't reliable. Can't use any other ethnicity, either, for the same reason. Can't use things like body art. One of the sweetest, loveliest, kindest people on this earth has a shoulder arm liberally tattooed. Dress? It is to laugh. Again, I know a person whose dress screams "TART," but who is anything but.
So, how do we classify people? I offer the following methods:
1. How does this person treat his/her partner? Affection? Love? Tenderness? Sarcasm? Cruelty? Indifference?
2. How does this person treat his/her children? Children require infinite patience.
3. How does this person treat casual contacts? (Waitresses, bus drivers, sales clerks)
4. How does this person treat strangers?
Notice a thread here?

3 comments:

于名于名 said...
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Becky Stauffer said...

I've thinking about this for a few days before commenting. One problem with judging people in this way is that we don't see them 100% of the time. To be fair we need to see them in all kinds of lights and understand any factors that might influence some short-term behavior. I know I try to be a kind and courteous as possible to strangers and those who serve. The Latino workers who recently did landscaping in my yard got treated to coffee and pastries throughout the day. On the other hand, after politely telling the bank no less than six times that my husband was not only my EX and did not live here, he was also deceased, I finally lost it with some poor soul, who I remember kept rather meekly echoing my words as a question, "He's dead?" I repented immediately after hanging up the phone.

Wouldn't it be nice to always be at our best? It's a worthy goal when we realize some people will forever judge us because of one moment in time when we weren't.

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