Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Books, Ducks, & How I Don't Buy Organic Food

When I was a child, I often heard the adage, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." These words pointed to the fact that we shouldn't necessarily judge something (or someone) hastily. 

Later on in life, I heard another saying: "If it quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck, then it's a duck." These words pointed to the fact that if something or someone looked or acted in certain ways, then we could pin down who or what it was. 

I've been trying to see if these two sayings can both ring true at the same time. It appears to me-just in the way that I process words-that the first saying basically states: "Just because something looks like a certain thing does not mean that it is that thing." But, it also appears to me that the second saying basically states: "If something looks or acts like a certain thing, then it is that thing." 

Am I misunderstanding what these proverbs are trying to say? Or, is the human person such a complex being that we can't sum up the whole experience of encountering another person in a few flimsy words? 

I've been amused, over the past several months, when other people have made the assumption that I'm into organic food. 

I'm guessing that they look at me and think, "Oh, she's a hippie! She totally buys and enjoys organic food!" Yes, I love hippie skirts, typically don't use shampoo in my hair (after 9-10 months, I'm now evaluating if I want to go back to shampoo or not), have a stash of mama cloth (which I made from old t-shirts), and love my supply of reusable toilet paper (also made from old t-shirts). But, I currently don't buy organic food. I don't have anything against organic food, and I think it's a great idea, but buying organic food is not the biggest priority in my life or budget right now. Maybe I'll regularly buy it someday, but I'm not that passionate about it at the moment, and I'm fine with that. 
I do, however, buy bags of  garland chrysanthemum to eat.
Six months ago, I never knew that these existed.
This just shows that we can and do change over time!

I think that we like making assumptions about others. 

It helps us imagine that we know them or can understand them better. We stick a label on a person or group, perhaps believing that we will be able to predict what they will do, how they will react to events. As much as we may enjoy spontaneity in life, we can really love predictability. We like to know what topics we can comfortably bring up with other people, and which people will give us support in certain areas. 

But, we can't fully understand each individual human person within the context of one label. And just because someone may appear to fit a label does not mean that he or she carries all the characteristics that apply to that label. Furthermore, some labels, while they may point to certain beliefs or characteristics, cannot and do not specifically describe every aspect of each person in that group. 

I'm a bit of a hippie, but I don't embody all characteristics that people would associate with that term. 

I'm a pro-life feminist who refuses to let the term "feminist" be hijacked by those who believe that it only fits people who want abortion and birth control to be readily accessible. 

I'm a Jane Austen-loving bookworm who loves literature that brings light and joy to the world, but I also have phases where darker stuff, like Dracula, is what I want. 

I'm an extrovert who loves people, but I also need time away from other people and social settings. 

We like to think that we "know" other people when we meet them, hear about them, or creep on their Facebook profiles. But do we really know them-or are we just trying to fit them into a certain label so that we think we know them? How many times have we thought or said, "So-and-so did what?" out of surprise, because a person acts differently than how we predict he or she will act? 

Let's stop trying to assume things about other people. Let's actually get to know others, and have real, substance-filled conversations to learn what they think or believe about different issues. This is how we'll find common ground and unity with them, despite our differences. 

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me a bit of what I was trying to write about in my 'people who understand you' post! It does seem like most people try to fit each other into a certain sort of box, and make further assumptions based on expectations associated with that box or role.