Monday, October 13, 2014

We Are All Individuals

Today I watched the second episode of John Safran's Race Relations.

One of the questions asked in the episode is whether it's better to date someone from your own ethnic group, because an outsider won't be able to understand your culture or what you're going through.

The answer I got from the episode is that no, it's not better. Why? Because we're all individuals. Another Jewish person might have a better idea of what it's like to be Jewish than a Gentile would. But the Jewish person can't understand my own personal experience as a Jew simply because they're Jewish too. Nor can I understand what being Jewish is like for them. It's different for everybody.

On top of that, being Jewish is just one piece of the puzzle that is me.

If we want to understand someone more, it might help to learn a little about the factions they belong to—their age, their gender, their ethnic group, their profession, their religion, their country of origin, their sexual preference, their illness and/or disabilities, etc.  But all that is less important than understanding them as individuals.

It was good for me to watch the show, because I often forget the lesson. Unfortunately. I do a lot of stereotyping. And I do think people sometimes fit certain stereotypes. I don't feel I'm totally off-base. But I need to remember that people are complex and not easily defined.  I can meet someone and make certain correct guesses based on their...let's say age (because I tend to have a lot of prejudices and hangups in that area), but if I'm open-minded and get to know them, they're likely to have many surprises for me.