Sunday, July 29, 2012

Equality's Truest Sense is Blind

One of the things I always liked about "managing by spreadsheet" was that I can look at such digital schedules and scorecards without having any idea what the face is for the name. Sure, you get the odd tip-off to statistics you don't care about, like demography, if you're tracking by name, but "Alex Watson" could be a man or a woman of just about any race, age, or religious differential. It means that you have only merit upon which to evaluate people, and the practice of judging solely on merit is the most admirable and fair-handed practice one can employ in dealing with people.

Being born at the turn of the century I have had the remarkable experience in growing up in an age of melting borders, in one of the most diverse countries on the face of the earth, and in an age where understanding is the means and stereotypes are no longer an end. I was born just early enough to understand the Racial Profiling issue in the post-9/11 atmosphere even as it was being discussed, and I was born just late enough that even my small town and the surrounding towns were populated on a mixed level, rather than the single-racial image we are presented in the televised media. I grew up hearing people in the mall speak Punjab, learning French in school, babysat in a Korean Restaurant, exposed at once to the foods of any of nineteen different nationalities, exposed to the history of any of a dozen, and interested in (to date now) the history, language, of culture of any of a half-dozen more.

I was not raised with race as an issue, because it shouldn't be. Morgan Freeman is famously quoted for saying the best way to end racism would be to "stop talking about it", and while I can't say I grant his premise I can certainly say I understand it. I don't look at a person's skin colour and make assumptions about their behaviour, because in this day and age I know more white people who "act black" and more black people who "act white" than any stereotype that could apply. People are just people, and they act according to the dictates of their personalities and values.

I never even understood some the stereotypes that I encounter because they are overblown. "Asians are the best at math" doesn't make sense to the kid in grade 6 who was doing math on the high school level. I don't need to be told that "Germans are precise" when the two ethnic germans I know are no more precise, orderly, or "uptight" than anyone else I know in their age group. I identify more with the phrase "terrorists are to islam as the KKK are to Christianity" than with the phrase "Islam is a religion of the sword". Women are not "more artistic" when you surround yourself with artists, nor are they "less athletic" when you observe the practice of athletics.

The more you understand about people in general, the more you understand they do not come in flavours. Men, women, blacks, whites, hispanics, asians, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Jainists, Zoroastrians, heterosexuals and homosexuals are all just people. We all want the same things in life and we all find our own way toward them, and if we are going to engage in the futile exercise of trying to judge people (for what purpose I deign not to specifity), we should do it for that. For the things we choose, rather than the things we are. For the way we behave, rather than the way we were born.

I hate to keep cribbing Aaron Sorkin, but he said it best when he said this. "Now that we have abandoned discrimination in our laws, it's time that we abandon it in our hearts and minds as well."

No comments:

Post a Comment