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My lesson about stereotypes

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  • sharani_sharani
    I ve been walking regularly for about a half hour everyday and on most days that I am at work I take my daily constitutional out the door of the library, along
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 18, 2007
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      I've been walking regularly for about a half hour everyday and on most
      days that I am at work I take my daily constitutional out the door of
      the library, along a residential street that is wooded wetland on one
      side and down along another residential street with houses right on
      the ocean's shore. I get a whole hour for lunch (unpaid mind you) so I
      mostly take the walk during the lunch hour. With the variety of
      weather in New England, I might be bundled up like an eskimo or
      changed into non-work clothes with my jacket tied around my waist.

      Last Monday as I walked I ruminated to myself about the differences in
      regional style in America. A New England transplant, I was considering
      how in the Midwest where I grew up it is much more common to greet
      strangers whose path you cross with a warm hello. Here it is more
      common not to acknowledge people when you are out walking. On Monday I
      must have crossed paths with several people and neither of us shared a
      greeting.

      I especially notice the difference when my parents have come to visit.
      Until a couple of years ago, they only wintered where it was warm for
      their retirement and still lived in the Midwest the rest of the year.
      If we went for a walk in the neighborhood, they would naturally say
      hello to each and every person we walked past. One time when they went
      walking without me, they even struck up a long coversation with a man
      about a half mile away who lived in a very interesting looking old
      house with beautiful landscaping/gardens who I never did meet myself.
      If my thoughts turn to these regional variations, my recollection
      about my parents' visits here usually resurface.

      Then later last week I was out walking at lunch when an older
      gentleman passed me coming in the other direction. He commented on the
      weather and I spontaneously responded to his enthusiastic
      demeanor with a friendly reply. Before I knew it, we had both stopped
      and were engaged in conversation. He very proudly shared with me that
      he was 91 years old and that the doctors told him he should walk
      regularly for a half hour to keep up his health. He seemed very spry
      and young - hardly 91! I heard a little about his children,
      grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One of his sons had been the
      county sheriff prior to the current one. His wife had died last April
      at age 89. I told him a little about my employment up the road at the
      library. Then we parted and I definitely had less time to swallow a
      few bites of lunch after adding in the extra time spent thus on my
      lunch hour.

      During our encounter I had nary a thought in my head about my previous
      ruminations. It was only after the fact that I remembered I had only
      just engaged in stereotyping about New Englanders not greeting people
      on the street. It seemed that the "universe" was not going to let me
      get away with this type of thinking and offered me a quick lesson and
      reminder about the fallacy of stereotypes. I sheepishly felt as if I
      had my knuckles rapped yet felt grateful for the experience. My
      stereotypes about how much infirmity one might have at age 91 were
      exposed as well in this experience.

      Sometimes stereotypes arise from a kernel of truth but the danger in
      applying them to life is that every rule admits of exceptions and
      every stereotype can be disproven in a heartbeat by the beautiful
      diversity of human experience. Invariably they diminish us.

      When I walked at work on my lunch hour after meeting Mr. Wilson, both
      times I greeted the people I passed and they returned in kind. I
      certainly hope that the next time I unconsciously fall into the
      stereotyping habit that I am again caught so I can steer my steps back
      to higher ground.

      Sharani
    • cott_doris
      Nice topic, Sharani. In Switzerland it is also that people are greeting each other in areas a little away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. I very
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 20, 2007
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        Nice topic, Sharani. In Switzerland it is also that people are
        greeting each other in areas a little away from the hustle and bustle
        of the city centre. I very much enjoy smiling and greeting people and
        they smile and greet back.

        Some time ago being in a different country I missed it a lot,
        standing in the subway and feeling strange by smiling at people.
        (because I didn't get the usual response). You just have to stand or
        sit seriously looking - and you fit into the picture. Sometimes
        children break through the silence.

        This reminds me of a recent article by Ashrita on his blog: "The
        Bargaining Game". The picture he chose is saying everything I am
        trying to do here.

        Here is the link:

        http://www.ashrita.com/blog





        --- In Sri_Chinmoy_Inspiration@yahoogroups.com, sharani_sharani
        <no_reply@...> wrote:
        >
        > I've been walking regularly for about a half hour everyday and on
        most
        > days that I am at work I take my daily constitutional out the door
        of
        > the library, along a residential street that is wooded wetland on
        one
        > side and down along another residential street with houses right on
        > the ocean's shore. I get a whole hour for lunch (unpaid mind you)
        so I
        > mostly take the walk during the lunch hour. With the variety of
        > weather in New England, I might be bundled up like an eskimo or
        > changed into non-work clothes with my jacket tied around my waist.
        >
        > Last Monday as I walked I ruminated to myself about the differences
        in
        > regional style in America. A New England transplant, I was
        considering
        > how in the Midwest where I grew up it is much more common to greet
        > strangers whose path you cross with a warm hello. Here it is more
        > common not to acknowledge people when you are out walking. On
        Monday I
        > must have crossed paths with several people and neither of us
        shared a
        > greeting.
        >
        > I especially notice the difference when my parents have come to
        visit.
        > Until a couple of years ago, they only wintered where it was warm
        for
        > their retirement and still lived in the Midwest the rest of the
        year.
        > If we went for a walk in the neighborhood, they would naturally say
        > hello to each and every person we walked past. One time when they
        went
        > walking without me, they even struck up a long coversation with a
        man
        > about a half mile away who lived in a very interesting looking old
        > house with beautiful landscaping/gardens who I never did meet
        myself.
        > If my thoughts turn to these regional variations, my recollection
        > about my parents' visits here usually resurface.
        >
        > Then later last week I was out walking at lunch when an older
        > gentleman passed me coming in the other direction. He commented on
        the
        > weather and I spontaneously responded to his enthusiastic
        > demeanor with a friendly reply. Before I knew it, we had both
        stopped
        > and were engaged in conversation. He very proudly shared with me
        that
        > he was 91 years old and that the doctors told him he should walk
        > regularly for a half hour to keep up his health. He seemed very spry
        > and young - hardly 91! I heard a little about his children,
        > grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One of his sons had been the
        > county sheriff prior to the current one. His wife had died last
        April
        > at age 89. I told him a little about my employment up the road at
        the
        > library. Then we parted and I definitely had less time to swallow a
        > few bites of lunch after adding in the extra time spent thus on my
        > lunch hour.
        >
        > During our encounter I had nary a thought in my head about my
        previous
        > ruminations. It was only after the fact that I remembered I had only
        > just engaged in stereotyping about New Englanders not greeting
        people
        > on the street. It seemed that the "universe" was not going to let me
        > get away with this type of thinking and offered me a quick lesson
        and
        > reminder about the fallacy of stereotypes. I sheepishly felt as if I
        > had my knuckles rapped yet felt grateful for the experience. My
        > stereotypes about how much infirmity one might have at age 91 were
        > exposed as well in this experience.
        >
        > Sometimes stereotypes arise from a kernel of truth but the danger in
        > applying them to life is that every rule admits of exceptions and
        > every stereotype can be disproven in a heartbeat by the beautiful
        > diversity of human experience. Invariably they diminish us.
        >
        > When I walked at work on my lunch hour after meeting Mr. Wilson,
        both
        > times I greeted the people I passed and they returned in kind. I
        > certainly hope that the next time I unconsciously fall into the
        > stereotyping habit that I am again caught so I can steer my steps
        back
        > to higher ground.
        >
        > Sharani
        >
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