Right folks, it’s time for a bout of honesty now. I initially titled this post ‘We’re All Bastards’ (sorry, a bit less formal though, haha!) and to a certain extent I believe that this is partially true. None of us are perfect, especially when it comes to how we look at and how we feel about others.
Be honest with yourself now. When you come across a situation that you don’t feel comfortable with, how do you react? What is the very first thought to cross your mind? It could be anything from seeing someone that looks, speaks or acts a little unfamiliar to meeting someone from another country. Perhaps a group of potentially troublesome people are heading in your direction. Maybe someone that you have never encountered until that point has done or said something that you hate.
Are you likely asking yourself, without giving the situation any thought whatsoever to begin with, the following. What is wrong with that person? Are these people going to harm me? How can I make this person stop doing what they are doing or tell them that what they are doing is wrong so that I don’t have to put up with their nonsense?
There are those of us who like to believe that everything we say and do represents how we like to truly perceive ourselves, if indeed we wish to be perceived as such, someone with a good heart and a good mind. Most of us would likely land in the category of ‘good people’ (though to the extent of how ‘good’ someone actually is, that is for another discussion entirely) because we are choosing to think about any given situation at all, to give that situation some consideration. Then there are those who care nothing for contemplation whatsoever and often just say or do whatever pops into their minds and may the consequences be damned. This is the basic difference between the thoughtful and the thoughtless.
For this perspective look into human nature I will be referring solely to the group I refer to as the ‘thoughtful’. The less said about the ‘thoughtless’ the better as far as I am concerned. If the consequences of their actions aren’t potent enough lessons for them to learn from then I don’t have a clue what is.
Call it survival instinct or just old fashioned human nature but rare is the person whose initial thoughts are innocent and pure of spite and judgement. Without intending to do so, I believe that many of us become engulfed with negative feelings and thoughts as a result of simply existing within our world and the carefully constructed society we have built for ourselves. I am not saying we choose to feel this way nor that by doing so are we bad people. I have come to the conclusion though that it is how we CHOOSE to react that makes the difference. Regarding this I believe you have two distinct choices to make when confronted by anything that could be perceived as a negative situation in whatever form or shape it takes.
The first thought that immediately pops into your head is usually based on instinct and draws from absorbing our experiences and surroundings during the early stages of our lives. If we are taught that people who are different for any reason are inherently ‘wrong’ for merely existing as who they are or for what they have chosen to be, then our initial thoughts toward an undesirable situation, or at least one that is perceived to be undesirable, will be by that persons very nature quite negative.
Our minds are like bottles, containers of the potential for knowledge and insight, which fill up very quickly during childhood with whatever upbringing, whether it’s a fortunate one or not, that is thrust upon us. As children we are not afforded the luxury of choosing how the first part of our life begins. Some folk’s bottles fill up quite quickly, maybe reaching their limit during their mid teenage years when some of the world is starting to make some sense, and they choose to cork the lid early on perhaps believing that what they already know will suit them for the rest of their lives. For others, this process may take a little longer. Maybe their limit is during their early to mid-twenties or perhaps sometime later. Then there are those who never want to close the lid. They want to expand the size of their bottles until they are positively brimming and even then they may not be sated in their pursuit of knowledge and how they may use this to better understand other people and the world around them. They may even choose to pour out some information, to rid themselves of what has become unnecessary or outdated to make room for new material. Each of us is different in this regard and when we reach this limit is not a decisive, conscious decision.
The second, or third or however many other thoughts that pass through your mind after the fact are those that stem from how we choose to view that situation based on what we have learned. And that is only if we allow ourselves the opportunity to consider an alternative viewpoint. This option derives from the mindful decision to either extrapolate information we already have to choose the best and most logical way forward or to question what limited information we actually do possess if that information does not yield a positive outcome with a desire to seek an alternative option that we may not be aware of at the time.
The latter represents, to me, a huge step forward for a person with limited perceptions and ideas, and it is my opinion that we are all limited in this regard to a certain degree, to step out of the mire of ignorance to embrace the possibilities of solutions or perceptions that we have not yet considered. This decision can be considered nothing but positive. The final outcome of how that person chooses to act based on whatever they eventually do learn is another matter entirely and one that poses additional questions regarding the potential for empathy and the possibilities of morality, one way or another.
The simple fact is that none of us are born with racist, sexist, homophobic or just all around prejudiced inclinations toward others that we do or do not know. We subconsciously attune our minds to our environments as we grow and develop for better or for worse. This is especially true when we are children, the point in our lives when we are at our most vulnerable and impressionable.
It is a sad fact that some of us will grow up to learn that everyone who does not have the exact same gender, skin colour, sexual orientation or cultural or religious background as themselves will view those who are different as somehow lesser or just simply wrong for being who they are. Our identities as individuals regarding the above attributes should never be considered to be faults in anyway but that will unfortunately not dissuade the opinions of some people, no matter how misguided their judgement is considered to be.
My personal feelings regarding this are that we are not judged by our thoughts, we are judged by our words and our actions. So think whatever you want for as long as you want. Simply thinking about something, either virtuous inclinations, corrupt contemplations or somewhere in between, in itself is not a bad thing. If the human race did more thinking before speaking or acting, then this world would be a much greater place. However, I will always pity those who turn away from learning information about others that may educate and enlighten them and maybe sway their prejudices toward a more positive outlook. I am referring to those who, for whatever ignorant reason, will always intentionally shun and mistreat individuals or groups different from themselves for no other reason than the fact that they are different.
If you have lived in fear of what is different your entire life because you have known nothing else, maybe for having lived an extremely isolated existence for example, then I can at least understand why you think and act the way that you do for you have known nothing else. But, if you have the benefit of the potential for embracing knowledge and experience and yet choose to speak or act selfishly or cruelly to another, then quite frankly you are a lesser person for it and the sooner the world is devoid of people like you, the better.
I am by no means an expert on the psychology of the human mind and I will never claim to be. These words here represent just some of my own thoughts and perspectives of how I consider us, as a society, to both perceive and have the potential to perceive our surroundings from day to day.
The only question I will then end with to represent my thoughts on this subject for you folks is simply this – how big is your bottle?