Those People

One of the lines from Vivian Apple at the End of the World is still sticking with me.

“We are all people before we are groups.”

I had been thinking about that before I even picked up the book, and it’s something that I constantly forget. Those people are everywhere. They go to work with you, you see them in the supermarket, and you read their posts on the Internet and shake your head in disgust. For whatever reason, those people disagree with you. They don’t eat what you eat. They don’t believe what you believe. They don’t stand for the things you stand for. Their concept of morality is different from yours. You don’t like to be around them because their opinions grate your nerves.

You generalize them until perhaps you find out that someone close to you becomes one of those people. You’ve known this person since you were fairly young, and you thought you had a lot in common with this person. Then you realize that he or she has fallen in with those people. But you can’t discriminate against or even dislike this person anymore because you know this person. He or she is familiar, and you might even be able to understand how he or she might have become one of those people. Then you think about how every one of those people might be just like this person you know. If you got to know them as individuals, you might just love them. You might just feel affection for them instead of automatic prejudice just because they happen to believe a certain thing (or not believe a certain thing).

This is the thought process I am having every time I think about those people and how prejudiced and intolerant I can be.

5 thoughts on “Those People

  1. This is an interesting post. I think people are products of their upbringing and influences so how can one judge a person by their own standards when they are only doing what they’ve been taught or learnt is right in their opinion. I think it is often best to judge people not by their beliefs but by their everyday actions and decisions. Let me know what you think!
    Caroline

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    1. That’s true. I think it depends on how “rebellious” a person is, or how willing they are to look outside of what their parents/ancestors have traditionally believed. It’s not right to do what your parents did just because it’s what your parents did… but if you examine yourself and you find that your parents’ beliefs align with yours. That’s a different story because in that case, you didn’t mindlessly follow someone else’s beliefs. (Hope that makes sense!)

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      1. Yeah you’re definately right! And the internet makes that so much easier to do these days. People are able to be so open minded! There’s certainly no excuse for ignorance in this modern age don’t you think 🙂

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  2. Makes me think of the time Magic Johnson went on the Arsenio Hall Show to say that he had HIV. Before that, for a lot of people, AIDS was something that happened to “those people” — gay, promiscuous, “other.”

    As someone said the next morning, “Now everybody in America knows somebody with HIV.” That kind of thing can make a big difference.

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