Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Judge me by what I say

Someone recently told me that they'd taken a dislike to a person they didn't know because "she didn't look like she sounded on the phone." This seemed absurd to me, because surely you can tell more about a person by having a conversation with them than you can just by looking. A rational person, I thought, would realise in that situation that any snap judgements they had been tempted to make on the basis of the person's appearance were in fact erroneous, because they already knew something more real about that person from talking to them. You would hope this would then transfer into a realisation that any similar judgements they might make about people in the future could also be wrong.

Then it dawned on me. How she "sounded on the phone" was a reference to her accent and manner of speaking, not what she actually had to say.

Think of all the interesting people you'll never get to know (or vice versa, I suppose, be disappointed in) if you go around making judgements about them on the basis of the colour of their hair, their taste in clothes or what sort of accent they have.

A teacher at school once told us a true and telling story about someone he knew. Said respectable person, another teacher if I recall, was out shopping in busy city centre when he saw a sight that appalled him. Across the street, a punk, complete with brightly coloured mohican and black leather jacket (I can only assume this was sometime in the 1980s) was kicking and stamping on a little old lady who was lying on the ground. Naturally, being a good, upstanding citizen, he ran over to rescue the poor woman from the viscious beating she was receiving at the hands of the leather clad thug. Imagine his shock when he discovered that the old lady was on fire and the scary looking punk was doing what any good and decent person would do. He was trying to help her.

Judge people by their actions and their opinions, not by the style of their clothes.

The train of thought that led to this post was started, believe it or not, by this site. Basically, you have to look at pictures of two cats side by side and click on which you think is the cutest. After clicking, you can see what percentage of people agreed with you. There are also links to see which are the "winningest" kittens and which unfortunates are the "losingest". It it incredibly addictive, if I tell the truth. But as I was I was clicking merrily away, a nagging voice was telling me that if this was about people - and I know there are such sites - I'd be disgusted and start ranting about not judging others by their appearance. So I had the rant anyway.

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