someone in turn informs your attitude toward them.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?
That knowledges comes from what you see, what you hear them say, what others say about them. It also might come from what you read, hear or find depending on your use of media and research. But none of this touches who they are. It is who you are that determines which bit of data in that overwhelming tide becomes the key to your attitude.
Sometimes that information is so subtle you don’t realize what you are doing. Other times, it is so obvious that you want to do the head slap since it is a blinding flash of the obvious.
I am talking to a systems engineer on a recent voyage. He overhears someone’s conversation and then remarks “I don’t know what they are worried about. Everyone knows that we are put here on this earth to have dominion. Besides, there are so few of us compared to the size of the earth that our impact is insignificant.”
I just stood there speechless. It is not that I am member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and feel a need to repopulated the pirate populations, but each and every creature has an impact on the world. If you don’t believe me, talk to those of us who remember having streets lined with Elm Trees. Or the farmer in Africa who just lost his season’s crops to a hungry elephant and is now facing starvation for his children. Or those of us who live in Northern California and look at the water consumption of the LA Basin (which is provided by our watershed).
To say that man has no impact is, to me, extremely arrogant. Or failing that – naive. The question is what actions does one take? How do you balance your needs and rights against those around you.
My opinion of this particular man has changed. Not just that I don’t agree with his political or religious views. I am not sure that I trust his scientific expertise. If he thinks that whatever he does is fine, has no impact, how does he deal with scientific information in his job? What happens if it doesn’t agree with his current design? How about if it “says” that he has a serious error in the system. What about all other daily decisions? Do I trust his opinion on books, films, tours & travels?
These are the kind of questions that all of us wrestle with on a daily basis, whether consciously or not. Sometimes they are clear: a social science experiment showing random pictures of young men to a group of middle aged women. Who would they trust? Would you be concerned about violence if you met this individual? Not surprisingly, across all ethnic lines, the women were concerned about the young, black men with mid eastern appearing not that close a second. Never mind that several of the young white men in the group were convicted serial killers. Simply race, when all were dressed about the same, was the trigger.
We are a sum of experiences, beliefs, personal knowledge. But it is kind of like being 18 again – if you chose to stay that way – it is on you and no one else. Growth doesn’t stop. Learning doesn’t stop. It is what you know that informs your take on life.
(and yes, I know it is Father’s Day. We didn’t go to the game and I just felt like ranting for a while….