Two posts in the Jack’s Winning Words blog that I get every day seemed destined to be in juxtaposition–
“My mom used to say, ‘No one is worthless, Jonny, they can at least be a good bad example.” (Jon Hanson)
“There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, and those who do not see.” (Leonardo da Vinci)
Jonny’s mom knew that she was speaking of people who just don’t see. They refuse to see that the things that they may do or say out of prejudice or fear could be hurtful or maybe they just don’t care. They become the bad example that makes the newscast at night or that others use as an example of bad behavior. They are the people that give terms like “bigot” or “charlatan” or “sex offender” a face and form. We know who they are and in most cases, they know who they are. They have been shown, but they just don’t care.
In order not to join that group, one must at least be a person of the second type that Leonardo mentioned – someone who sees once they are shown. Many of us grew up in homes where there may have been prejudices expressed and perhaps even acted out. I certainly did. Once I started thinking and seeing for myself, I was able to sort out the truth about those prejudices from the fears that they were based upon. Vestiges of those early knee-jerk reactions to certain people or things remain in the back of my mind, but I am now able to see them for what they were. I hope I have not been the good bad example in front of my children, grandchildren and others. I try not to be.
There are special glasses that are used by various groups against drug and alcohol use that demonstrate the impact of alcohol on the body by distorting what you see so completely that you cannot do simple tasks like putting colored pegs in holes on a board, even though you can “see” through the glasses. Prejudices are like that for your life. They are the lens that you see life through that distort things and render you unable to function properly. Once you understand how to stop looking at life through those lenses, you can actually “see” the people and things that you are interacting with and life becomes much richer. Hopefully, you will come to understand if you are wearing those lenses or someone will tell you and then you will see.
What type of person are you? Do you see or at least consider and see things differently if you are told; or, are you so stuck in your ways that you cannot bring yourself to see any alternative to your set beliefs? When you encounter someone who is different from you, do you have an immediate reaction that dictates how you interact (or avoid interacting) with them? Have you thought about that? Has anyone told you that your preconceived notions are wrong? Can you see that it is wrong or at least wrong not to be open-minded enough to re-evaluate why you are reacting like that? Don’t be the good bad example. Take off the glasses of your prejudices and see?