Stereotypes Should Go the Way of the Dodo
By gsnyder, Oct 7 2012 09:00PM
The world is full of them; they lead to miscommunications, wrongful justifications, violence, and even wars. I’m talking about stereotypes. We’re all guilty of them at one time or another. Maybe it’s seeing a homeless person and crossing the street, because they may be dangerous. Or maybe it’s thinking all Jewish people are frugal and focused on saving money. Or maybe it’s thinking that poor black kids aren’t as good in school as white kids. Whatever the stereotype, whatever the conclusion, I can say this with absolute certainty, it doesn’t apply to everyone.
Some people have said that in One Moment in Time, Jack Barrett’s solution to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians was too simplistic. But I say Ockham’s razor; with competing hypotheses, the simplest solution is typically correct. Stereotypes are a lack of understanding. It’s so easy to jump to a conclusion about something we don’t know, then to apply that conclusion to a broader group. However, it’s when we learn, communicate, and study that we figure out the errors of our ways.
Imagine being a smart kid in high school who is bullied by a larger, but less academically applied kid. In school, they would hate each other. Now imagine those two kids being stranded on an island for a month. Most likely they would get to know each other, and learn to work together for mutual survival. Now I’m not saying we should solve the world’s problems by sticking people on an island for a month, but, wait, maybe we should. Okay, that’s not practical, but the idea that you should get to know someone before you determine to hate them is not so far out of reach.
When Jack brought an Israeli soldier and a member of the Palestinian militia together, they hated each other. Not because of who they were, but because of what the other thought they represented. Once they learned that they were more alike than they thought, did the hate begin to dissipate. Maybe we can’t do this with large groups of people, but every one of us can encourage our children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and anyone else we come in contact with to learn before concluding. Maybe then, we can create a safer and more prosperous planet.