# 2009.02.11

armed with recent life experiences of mine on my mind i came to a bit strange conclusion. do you think about yourself as a sexist? or perhaps a racist? probably not. but the funny thing is that most people actually seem to be not that tolerant as they think, since they do not perceive everyone in the same way.

## background work

before we start, let me introduce 3, short, life-taken situations.

### situation 1

in a moment you'll be shown image showing two man standing next to each other. your task is to take a very fast look at it (let's say: 2 seconds, then close it) and then take down your notes about people you have seen. whatever comes to your mind, what have you noticed, etc…

so here we go with test image 1 (note: image has been randomly taken from google images – original can be found here).

### situation 2

let's call, hero of our next story, John. if you're a man, assume he's a good friend of yours who has a nice, intelligent girlfriend named Barbara. if you're a woman, assume John's your boyfriend. situation goes as follows: John tells you that this evening he's going to meet with his friend, Susan. it happens that another friend of yours (Bob) had a night shift that day and he lives next to John. next day he tells you that he have seen light still up in the kitchen around 0200h-0300h.

### situation 3

let's stay with John and you for next story. few days later John's phone rings and Ann invites John for a beer at her place. around midnight John sends you sms that he's a bit tired and actually he has to be in the early morning in his job, which is not far from Ann's place therefore he decides to stay at her place.

### conclusion(s)

what have you written as the answer for the first example? what was your first thought about John's attitude to life?

## and now something completely different

now take a look at next image for a short time and write down your observations.

see test image 2 (note: image has been randomly taken from google images – original can be found here).

have skin color of one of two man at the very begin of list o adjectives you have written for the first image?

have you considered John as a dishones man for Barbara? now read again story 2 and 3, but instead of name Susan use Damian and instead of Ann use Chuck. how does it sound now for you?

## when equal means truly equal

there has been interesting period in south park about their town's flag, which looked like this3):

local school's chief (who was a black man) argued that it is racist and should be changed. children from school argued that it is mayby cruel, but surely not racist (they were white). new flag has been proposed any how, so that “everyone were happy”. new flag looked like this4):

chief got mad and many not nice words have been told in a public from both sides, when finally one of the young boys said something like this: “god dame it! what are you arguing chief about anyway? what the hell is racist about bunch of guys who hanged another man?!”. then chief understood – from town-wide (in)tolerance discussion only the kids happend not to show any intolerance – they haven't seen black man hanging, but instead just A MAN hanging. they have not noticed color of a skin at all. they perceived chief as equal in every aspect.

## an experiment

how about difference about sex? how does it influence us? when reading situations, when John met his friends who were women, most of us assumed he could be dishonest with Barbara (some were probably sure about this). the second time there was no such a problem – “hey! John is not gay – he has girlfirned. they must have drunk few beers, have a good laugh and went to sleep later on.”.

there is an obvious difference between meeting people of the same and of the opposite sex.

now assume that you're unable to see things with your eyes as you do now. you're unable to hear as well. instead you have cybernetic implant that shows you all living things as an icon (cat, dog, human, tree, etc…) and you see everyting they say as a text that displays, on what happened to be your “new eyes”. now you're unable to tell if you're talking with man or woman… and so you have a good field to start judgements about people.

## got the idea?

some time ago, when i truly realized the meaning of all those mechanisms that drives us without our consciousness i started to seek for some solutions to this. my very personal way to simulate such a behavior is doing mind experiments – for example, when in doubt if it's ok to act like in situations 2 and 3 i imagine that i'm talking with a person of the same sex, instead of opposite. when i find it as ok for the same sex, what is the problem then? if i like someone, i simply like him/her for who (s)he is and sex does not matter, since we're friends – that's all. nothing more, nothing less.

there are surely things like hugging, kissing or dancing that you prefer to do with person of an opposite sex, but there are also many things that you can do regardless of your friend's sex, for example going for a beer 'till a very early morning or staying and one's place for a night on a couch. in my life though i spotted few times very rough reactions to such a things and arguments like “we're very good friends – we talked, drunk some beer and went to sleep in separate beds” were treated as “an excuse” at most, but not as an honest response. if you think the same i think this is a good place to introduce you to Mr. Albert Einstein and one of his interesting quotations:

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.

in fact, in psychology it is commonly accepted fact that most of the society is not normal5). knowing that others live intolerant way should not affect your perception. but in everyday's life humans are social and very often agree to what they have found in they surrounding just not to be an “outsider”.

i hope this thought i came to recently will make you wonder at least. if you'd like to share your opinion with we, just let me know.

5)
refere to Erich Fromm's publications for more details