Monday, April 20, 2009

Snap Judgments

FoxNews reports that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has, again, verbally attacked both Israel and the United States, this time (ironically) at a racism conference sponsored by the United Nations. Why doesn't this surprise me? I really didn't think that President Obama's attempt to reach out to the Iranians with a speech on their TV would really open dialog between the two countries; so I wasn't surprised when it's obvious that nothing will open the minds of the Iranian leaders. They've made up their minds; Israel and it's supporters (most notably the United States) are cruel, racist and evil; and need to be wiped off the face of the earth. They've made their judgment and it will stand; no matter what.

Ever know someone like that; someone who makes their mind and won't change it? Like the Iranian leaders, they tend to be scary. Now I'm not talking about someone who has principles and lives by them. I'm talking about someone who makes a snap judgment about a person, place or thing, based on limited or superficial information, and refuses to listen to "the other side of the story" or look beyond the surface.

I've found myself doing just that, making a judgment about a person based on how they looked, and I learned a huge lesson when I was proven wrong. I met a certain person at a workshop a couple of years ago. This person was (by far) not the most attractive person I've ever met and additionally had some very annoying verbal habits. I immediately found myself put off by this person, and at first wasn't willing to look past the person's homeliness or listen to this person's discussions. It wasn't until I forced myself to look at my own reaction to this person's surface characteristics and feel shame for it, that I was able to open up to this person and find out just what a wonderful, warm, and intelligent friend this person could be. This person's inputs made the workshop a success and I would have missed out if I hadn't been able to see that I was wrong for making a snap judgment based on purely surface characteristics.

I think that's why I like the video of British singer Susan Boyle. (See my post on Dreamin'.) Ms Boyle is certainly not the prototype for a young (she's 47 years old), svelte, "hip," singing-star. In fact, she's just about everything opposite. She's an unemployed woman "of certain age," who stayed home to care for her elderly mother, rather than pursue her dream of being a singing star. You can tell from the reactions of the judges and the crowd that they expected Ms Boyle to be something of a joke; purely based on her appearance and her mannerisms. Like I did, they made a snap judgment based on superficial things. Then she started singing and it was wonderful. Her voice is as beautiful as her appearance is not. I hope that Ms Boyle achieves her dream of being a singing star, she certainly has the talent for it. I also hope that Ms Boyle's success will teach us that difficult lesson: we should not make snap judgments based on superficial things. People are complicated beings and there's always more to them that what appears on the surface.

I don't think the Iranian leadership will ever open their minds and look at their judgment that Israel should not exist, and that her supporters are "racist." They are so firmly entrenched in their judgment that no amount of outreach and dialogue, by the US or any other country, will change their minds. I hope that President Obama and his foreign policy advisers realize this simple fact, that the Iranians are entrenched in their racist philosophy and flawed judgment, and I hope they realize it soon.

1 comment:

David M said...

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