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12/09/09 / Goof

On (my own) judgment and prejudices

I’d like to confess: I found $5 outside the library yesterday, and I took it. (Before I did though, I wondered whether it was a trick someone was playing: maybe it was a psychology experiment some graduate students at CU were doing; maybe someone made a bet with a friend that, even though it was snowing and freezing cold outside, the bill would be gone in x amount of time; or maybe, I thought, there’s a candid camera somewhere and a big hoopla will occur and I’ll feel embarrassed. But then I simply thought that if I don’t take it, someone else will. If I could have, I would have happily returned it to its owner, but since that wasn’t possible, so what’s one to do?)

But more importantly, I’d like to confess that I can be judgmental sometimes. So what if someone ends their e-mails with “thx” instead of a “proper” thank you? What’s proper anyway? Maybe they have a painful hand condition that disinclines them to type words out fully in informal messages. It’s improbable but hardly impossible. Or maybe they were just rushed when they sent that particular message…who’s to know, who’s to say?

I learn and relearn everyday that life is a big fat series of contingencies, that you can’t base a person’s character on ten of their observed traits, let alone one. Yet it takes not one second for my prejudices to kick in, evoked by stimuli as the one above, and pass judgment on someone whom I otherwise may know next to nothing about. It’s curious (ironic?) that just yesterday I was thinking about my responsibility toward my brand, questioning whether I have any such responsibility (to myself as well as to the other). It seems that I do; it indeed does behoove me to choose my words wisely, because as much fun as it is to put your thoughts out there, there is in this case – as there is in most cases – a strong argument for practicing discretion even when one thinks one is harmlessly ranting.

[How those prejudices in me, in all of us, come about is a whole another matter. Maybe your childhood was unpleasant so you start there in your mind, going back there, blaming your parents, considering how your grandparents might have contributed to their being the way they were which caused them to be the way they were with you - and so on and so forth. At some point, however, you have to break that long winded chain of cause and effect, because otherwise you'll end up back at the beginning of time for mankind (naked with Adam and Eve, if they were even real). At some point you have to accept responsibility for the way things are where and how they are now. It's like whe therapists tell young adults to stop blaming their lives on their parents and just accept their lives.]

There is such a thing as radical honesty, but I am well aware that our feelings are such (much like our thoughts are such) that they don’t usually listen to reason before coming into their own. By the time you get around to applying reason to them, their emotional imprint has already been pressed into your psyche. I should heed my own advice (which isn’t really mine since I borrowed it), that kindness is sometimes wiser than honesty.

So, to whomever I may have inadvertently offended, if it’s not too late to do so, I’d like to apologize.

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