Thursday, March 21, 2013

Prejudging, Judging, and Divine Directives

Earl Grey White Tea
As I sat alone this morning in the basement of my boss's house, drinking what's probably the last of the Phoenix Mountain Dan Cong, I came to the sudden, sharp realization of a few things all at once.

Firstly, that earthenware retains flavours, and all my teas are now likely to taste salty for several days after having only just once made OXO-brand fake chicken stock in it to serve as a between-meals savoury-thing to keep my tongue happy.

Secondly, and no more relevantly, that I should stop thinking of a 10:30 wakeup as being lazy when it gets me up four hours before I have to leave for work.

Thirdly, and more to the point, that we, as a society, judge personal worth based on some properly stupid metrics.

We've all had that friend, I think, with the heavy eyelids and the full-arm tattoos that gets most passers-by assuming he's a drug user without having ever met or interacted with them. Once that assumption is made, even subconsciously, other traits begin to get applied: shiftless, under-achieving, possibly unemployed, probably unemployable, and so forth.

As an experiment, an aquaintance of mine from high-school who actually does fit that description shaved his head to eliminate the somewhat skinhead-esque haircut he'd had, bought himself a nice Denver Heyes dress shirt thick enough to hide the tattoos, had me update his resume for him, and tried to get back into the workforce. What people saw instead was someone industrious, a go-getter who was a great catch in a labour market currently swollen with terrible applicants for even the most menial positions. He was offered all three jobs he was interviewed for. God willing, he might even live up to these expectations.

Now, take it from me - I'm the straightest-edged guy you'd think you ever saw, and I've got as many twists and turns in me as any other piece of poor white trash you happen to come across, in spite of being neither. Physical appearance is nigh-onto-worthless in evaluating a person's job performance.

Let's consider the example of another friend I have. He has a single tattoo on his forearm - an ambigram of his sign in the western zodiac with his birth date beneath it. This guy is one of the harder-working, more level-headed and agreeable people I know, and anyone who actually takes the time to interview him comes to pretty much the same conclusion.

When his recent employers learned of the tattoo, they altered the uniform for him, and him alone, to hide it. I suppose that's better than firing him - I've heard of people fired for such things - but at the same time, in the role he performs in the industry in which he's working, a forearm tattoo is about as off-putting and relevant as green eyes.

On the tattoo thing, we're a society that's pretty much embraced the technology and its application for a good two, maybe even three, generations now, but we're pretty much pandering to those above us.

Moving on to the broader topic at hand (I, being uninked, couldn't possibly care less about Tattoos) we really do judge personal worth on pretty stupid metrics. More importantly, it's pretty surprising we bother to judge personal worth at all.

This is how a boring person looks
Now, as it happens, I don't like reaching for the bible to support my arguments if I'm not expressly discussing theology - I find even morality can usually be arrived at directly without divine intervention thanks to having been raised in a society that values, by and large, the Golden Rule.

There is however, Matthew 7:1-6:

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Mk. 4.24 
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
6 ¶ Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

To me, a strict interpretation of this passage seems to indicate we have no business judging people at all, and my secular values agree with me. The only relevant judgments are judgement on the matter at hand. Tattoos at a job interview are not relevant, even in the service industry, unless they are somehow indemnifying on their own merit (racist, ideological, and so forth). They are no more material to the dispensation of your duties than the colour of your hair or eyes. The real metric of relevance is past and present job performance, personal charisma in the interview process, and, frankly, demonstrable creative energy and drive. Anyone who can spin the Hilton into work afterward the way I did probably deserves the job they got - a shame that job fell through.

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