Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bias Aside...

My parents were right. Yet again, I find myself realizing this, and I'm amazed. I guess I shouldn't be surprised... my parents are often right. But learning it as an adult, learning the things they taught me as if I'm learning it all over again is pretty powerful.

Today, I speak of bias. I am biased. So are you. No matter where we come from, what we believe, or how we think, we approach everything with a bias. Teachers taught me this in grade school, and then we were informed about it in high school. It never sank in. How could a lower-middle-class female from small-town Oregon have bias? I breezed through college never paying much attention to my biases--even in my multicultural education class. I didn't want it to be true.

In the year and a half after college, I've come to a very different conclusion. I've seen how bias creates enemies over trivial matters. If only people were open to hearing the other side, open enough to see another bias, to admit their own...

That's what my parents did well. They've never taught me what to believe in specifically, but they forced me to respect all people regardless of history, creed, faith, color, etc. When I walk into a situation, I'm aware that I'm approaching it with my own baggage, and I try to be aware that other people are dragging theirs along too. Sometimes I feel like people run over my baggage with theirs and forget that my opinions are just as valid even though I'm coming at things from a different direction. I work hard to not do this--and yes, it's difficult.

Bias can be good: it reminds of who we are and where we came from. Bias means we make our turkey sandwiches the same way each lunch, or it means we look at things from a particular perspective. Bias can also be bad: I get bored with turkey sandwiches and the same smells and thinking about things one way.

My parents were right. I absolutely love seeing something so ordinary, something I take for granted in a new and fresh way.

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