This I Believe

Matthew - Powell, Tennessee
Entered on December 11, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that we are all different. While some people may have some things in common with others, indeed may have many things in common, we are all intrinsically unique. Let me explain.

I am a musician. Music is one of the few interests in my life that I would call a passion. My grandfather, father, and brother were also at one time musicians. Although I broke from the family tradition to become a percussionist (read: drummer), they still supported me in all my endeavors. Over the past years, love of music has grown to such a level that it affects almost every aspect of my life. Music has also taught me many things about the world that I may not have learned elsewhere.

So, what are you thinking right now? Well you may be trying to picture in your mind what kind of person I am, based on the little information you know about me. The only thing you really know about me, the only concrete fact that I have given though, is that I am a musician.

Depending on the type of person you are, you may imagine me as some beatnik kid who smokes cigarettes and hangs out behind the jazz club downtown. Or you may see me as a long-haired punk; you know the kind you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley. Have you ever thought about why you think that? Why do those images come into your mind? One word: stereotypes.

I believe that, next to racism, stereotypes are the most heinous form of discrimination. The main difference between stereotyping and racism, though, is that stereotyping is a quiet thing. It is a thing that happens in your mind so fast that you don’t even really know it happened. What’s really terrible is that once you have put a person in a certain stereotype, the behavior associated with that stereotype is all that you expect out of that person. That person is forever limited in your mind as to your expectations. They can never surprise you by acting any different. You will always associate that person with the stereotypical image of what they should be that you have fabricated in your mind.

I believe we are all different. I believe that stereotyping, although a natural human instinct, is a bad habit that needs to be corrected. So please, be kind to your fellow man and don’t forever put them in a category. You will get to know the people around you much better and will be a better person for it.