Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On the Other Hand 2

One of my greatest personal struggles is that I tend to view the world through a negative lens.
I am exploring avenues that might help me to reprogram my mind toward seeing things from a more positive vantage point.

Topic: Snap judgments of people based on their appearance and a stereotype.

First thought: Driving into work at about 7:30 a.m. the other morning, I passed a man walking slowly down the sidewalk. He was dressed in grimy jeans and a sweat-stained t-shirt. In his hand, he clutched a brown paper bag that appeared from its shape to contain a glass bottle of some sort. Without even the slightest effort, my mind immediately pictured its contents of malt liquor or some other cheap booze. As point A leads inevitably to point B, this scene caused me to instantly label that guy as some drunk bum, part of the seedy underbelly of society.

On the other hand: He may have been walking a little slowly as he just came off a night-shift of hard, honest labor. He could have been working multiple part-time jobs to support a family. That bag might have contained the left-overs from his lunch that he was bringing home for supper instead of throwing the uneaten food away. However, even if he had a bottle of alcohol in his hand, there is nothing wrong with that if he enjoys it responsibly. Who am I to judge this man for what he has purchased? Perhaps if I passed him by on the sidewalk, he may show a gentle smile and say a respectful hello.

I don't know what causes me to think like this. I believe that it has to do with how I have let my mind be programmed over the years. The root cause is most certainly mis-placed pride. I have this compulsion to tear others down so that I can feel better about myself. Try as I might to gain the upper hand on thinking of this sort, I taste bitter defeat time after time. However, after I pulled into my parking spot at work after this encounter, I sat and thought for a few moments. My initial negative impression of that man was just one possibility out of a countless number of much more positive others.