Have you ever watched the goings on in a dog park?
All the Poodles, Labs and Golden Doodles bouncing around with one another, being nice to the purse dogs, sharing sticks and tennis balls.
Then – the gate opens and in walks a Rottweiler tricked out in a shiny spiked collar or soiled bandana. The mood suddenly changes.
Not among the dogs. Among their owners.
The people present are already stiffening, assessing the animal’s body language and temperament, eyeing whoever’s on the other end of its leash for any obvious signs of anti-social behavior.
More often than not, the dogs give the new kid a sniff and get back to doing what they were doing. Most often the perceived “bad boy” simply joins in the fun.
People, of course, are far more sophisticated. We have a thousand different ways of separating others from our particular herd. We seldom trust those who aren’t like us.
We pre-judge based on how those “others” are dressed, what newspaper they read, what kind of TV they watch, what’s written on the bumper sticker on their car.
And in the process, we wall ourselves off from broadening our horizons, having our beliefs challenged and sharing experiences that might open us to entirely new ways of thinking or living.
Or – maybe just require us to question or justify (just a little) exactly why we think and act the way we do.
Recently, the brewers of Carlsberg beer conducted an experiment involving our preconceptions of others. I think you might find the results both interesting and entertaining…
Enjoy your Sunday.