I am constantly surprised by how people I know and love think about the world and the people in it. I recently had a discussion with a friend about how much people generalize humans into specific groups, whether it be gender, sexual orientation, race, culture or career. Where I am from there is many misconceptions about First Nations/Native/Indian/Aboriginal people. Many people describe this race as being alcoholics/lazy/addicts/bums/dirty/homeless people. There is a terrible history between what you may classify settlers of Canada and the original people from the continent, the First Nations. I do not wish to get into the specifics but there was many wars and disagreements and conflicts that eventually ended in the signing of the Treaties. Sadly this did not end the hate and bigotry towards the race, in some ways it made the judgments and generalizations worse.

This brings me to a conversation I recently had with a friend. I was fighting my point that you just cannot generalize any group of people (on this day we were specifically talking about aboriginals) because not all people are the same not matter what “group” you may personally assign them to. This friend then gave me the example of two apple trees:

On one side you have an apple tree that produces mainly bright red, perfect apples, that appear to be the best apples out there however, this  tree produces a few apples that are misshapen, brown and mushy. On the other side you have the same kind of apple tree that appears to produce predominantly bad apples that aren’t as appealing as the others. But again on that same tree there is also bright red, crisp, perfect apples that look the same as the other attractive apples on the opposite tree. The friend then asked Which tree do you pick apples from, which tree to you water and keep alive? The tree with the abundance of “good” apples or the tree with mostly “bad” apples?

I answered honestly, in the fact that innately if it was for survival I would probably pick from the “good” apple tree and support its life. However, if I was being logical I would simply pick the “good” apples from both trees and support growth of both trees since neither tree was completely without flaw. I also implied that it was not realistic to use a metaphor about a plants and apply it to human behaviour.

This friend was not enthused by my answer and suggested that I, as well as everyone would choose the good tree because we live in a survival of the fittest world. I began to explain that I don’t believe we live in that kind of reality anymore (at least in the western world) I believe we don’t have to leave the sick/weak/suffering/struggling to die or rot in their own life just so we can keep on living. I believe (in this day) we have the power overcome what some may call our innate sense of selfishness, our ability to pick out peoples differences and avoid things that make us uncomfortable. I told this friend that I believed this because I live it. I work on breaking through my judgments and stereotypes because I meet people who break the ideals I or society have imposed upon them. This friend still believed that it was not possible for me to do what I am doing, and we ended the discussion at that.

The funny thing is if it wasn’t possible for me to break through my own misconceptions then I wouldn’t have been able to keep this person as a friend. Just because he/she had these stereotypes about these people I didn’t judge him/her. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that is my opinion. There is a reason that I did not use a name in this blog, because this blog is not about attacking someone for their beliefs its about understanding that not all people have or rather choose to have an open mind. Sometimes people find that living inside the box is safer, easier and more fruitful. Being on the outside I can only reach my hand in and offer a possible way out.

I enjoy to having these kinds of discussions with people. I like to talk about things that may cause them discomfort or anxiety in an attempt to make them think or see things differently. I don’t know if this friend ever thought of our discussion again, but I know I think about it often. It just makes me wonder what other things people believe, what other things people think they know about the world. It also worries me that still in this day people are so consumed in their own ideas and opinions. When will we stop thinking of the world as billions of individuals with certain characteristics trying to survive and start thinking of it as one solid system of life, love and happiness?

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Comments
  1. zenkitties says:

    very well said, and from this vantage point, I already see a shift in per-dominantly selfish action to into a different molded selfish action. What I mean by this is that more and more people are starting to take their circumstances into their own hands and dealing with their problems instead of running away from them (mostly for “good” as its defined right now). The shift has been happening more and more and will continue to happen until we can reach a state in which like you said, is one solid system of life because this is what reality actually is.

    Someone like you and I who are free to move from box to box can only do what it is that we do in hopes that others may see by our actions that things can be different then what they are currently experiencing, and can choose to grab the extended hand out of their own confined space. Dealing with our own dirt is not an easy task (for anyone) but it is a cure to something that has been plaguing humans for a long time. It may have served us in the past but is no longer giving positive results and thus needs to be thrown away for things that are giving positive results. Keep doing what you’re doing Lindsay! =]

  2. Thanks so much Nick! It is comforting to know there is people out there who are breaking through and finding a way out. You too keep doing what you’re doing! I am always grateful and appreciative of your words of encouragement!

  3. Taylor says:

    I really appreciate your open mindedness. I enjoy having these kinds of conversations as well, and I think your application of logic to the apple tree anecdote was very well stated. I think you are arguing two different things in the next paragraph though. I agree that generalizations and stereotypes in general are wrong (which is a generalization, ha!) but I don’t agree with your argument about selfishness. I define acting selfishly as doing that which makes me feel good and is the best for me in the long term (a very important distinction from that which makes me feel good in the short term). Helping people who need it makes me feel very good, thus to me that is a selfish act (without the bad connotation associated with the word selfishness). Helping others also creates a good community and a benevolent society, which is also a good thing for me in the long term, since I have to live in this society. I think we should embrace a sense of selfishness, not try to overcome it. To me it seems that whenever people try to control other people, gain power over others, or enslave others, they are basing their lives on others. All of their energy is being focused on others (negatively) which is completely unselfish. Again, we should embrace selfishness.

    • Taylor I agree! I do think some degree of selfishness is needed. In the this blog I was meaning selfishness in the sense of only thinking of ones self and never of others. Thank you for your comments! I love hearing from my readers! 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing this “unwisdom”, Unwisdom, who is wiser than you think. I admire you for engaging the discussion so creatively without judgment. I often have a hard time with this, because I have seen too many consequences to such ideas. I’ll try to be more kind, less apt to judge the man or woman who thinks this or that. The hard part for me is to remember that 1) there’s a difference between the person and the idea; 2) the person has dignity, no matter what opinion they hold or what ideas they advocate; 3) but that pernicious ideas have horrible consequences for other people, among the worst of them being the idea of “White Supremacy.” How do you/I/we contend with ideas that would eliminate the “bad apple” tree – in this country, with politcos who work to end or reduce “the slocial safety net” for those they refard as the less than red apples. I just realized the humor in that sentence. The reall “Red” apples are the First Nation peoples, aren’t they? We Euro-Americans took their land by war and by treaties (that we ignored), and now regard ourselves as the good apple thee. Go figure. Like I say, some ideas are pernicious – even deadly. How do we engage in the struggle between ideas – the struggle for justice itself – and remain as cool headed and kind as you are in this wonderful piece. i salute you! Peace to you.

    • Thank you for your kind words Gordon! I will be the first to admit sometimes I am not as cool headed as this blog may suggest. Sometimes I get so sad and frustrated at the bigotry I see in the world but what helps me is knowing that not all people have the environment where they are able to express there true feelings. Many people are scared at standing up for what they believe is right and they may find being a “bad apple” is easier. I truly believe that no one wants to be hateful towards other people (mainly because being mean doesn’t make anyone feel good). I think much if not all hate is learned or suggested or bread. Thank you again for reading and commenting! I have loved the responses I have got so far!

  5. I too, have been having lots of these kinds of conversations. I think all of us can stand a little soul searching every once in a while.

  6. LifeWorthLiving says:

    Really loved your post. It’s amazing when I think back to when I was growing up and having to see all these people that judge someone just by looking at them. 9 out of 10 times they are wrong too. I thought it would end after high school but then I went into the real world and realized we are always gonna have people that judge you before they even talk to you. Just like people have negative feedback when someone has a dream they want to accomplish and they try and step on it. But if you always have a positive outlook on life and push yourself then nothing else matters. Your personality shows through your writing and I like it. Thanks for sharing.

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