Living In A Box

Luke is in a box, but this is a box he put himself in.

My son is in this box, but I am not responsible for how he got in there.

I posted something to Facebook today, an article and linked video clip about Monsanto and GMOs. When I posted it, I was merely doing so because I thought the report was interesting. What happened after I posted it, however, was even more interesting. A friend of mine from grade school responded to it. His response didn’t directly discuss the food issue. Instead, he wrote about the way the news was reported by CNN. I wrote back and said that I was looking to start a conversation about food and not about television journalism. To which he responded with a somewhat longer diatribe, basically accusing me of not wanting to hear anyone’s opinion if it differed from mine. And then I told him that I was interested in others’ opinions and did he care to share his with me or not? I stood there shaking my head because I wasn’t exactly sure how my post had devolved into a partisan issue, but it had and I was disappointed.

The whole conversation got me to thinking about how quick we are to judge each other. I’m just as bad about this as anyone else. We see what we see on Facebook and we assume we know people. We pigeonhole them based on stereotypes they seem to present through their profile. We block ourselves from the idea that there might be more to them than meets the eye. We deny their humanity. We do the same thing with the guy driving the Range Rover who cuts us off in traffic or the mom in the Walmart who is yelling at her kid or the homeless guy holding a sign on the street corner. We know who they are without their even saying a word. We don’t need to know their circumstances or their reasons or their history. All we need to know is what we see. Like an artist working only from a photograph we paint our one-sided portrait of them.

We do this same thing with people we’re close to, people whom we’ve known for years. They exist inside the box we placed them in when we first learned about them. Even though they have grown and experienced and changed over time as we all do, we still want to know them as they were because it’s easier that way. It’s difficult to accept that they have moved and maybe we haven’t made the journey along with them. I don’t know if we do this because we seek the familiar or because we’re too lazy to look deeper. I just know that it happens. In the end, although we look at each other every day, we don’t see each other at all.

The conversation I started about food on Facebook today did enlighten me, just not about food. I’m thinking now about how many boxes I live in, boxes constructed by the people who saw what they wanted to see and closed up the lid without even leaving me air holes so I could breathe. And I’m thinking about how I can take a box cutter and free some of the people whom I’ve trapped. Maybe if I slit open the lid, step back, and pay careful attention I will learn something new about them. And, maybe as with my post today, I will learn something new about myself as well.

10 comments

  1. I too get frustrated by people who immediately launch into rants or diatribes about anything they feel strongly about. I’m all for discussion, and even for dissenting viewpoints – but a conversation (i.e. ideas have to be exchanged, not just disseminated) is infinitely more helpful than a rant. I think this ties into your idea of putting people in boxes – very few people understand the art of listening nowadays. If people could take half the time and energy they put into their diatribes, and LISTENED to another point of view instead, life (not to mention media and the government too) would be much, much better, and we wouldn’t be stuck in unchanging boxes.

    1. Well said. I tell my children to find compromise and meet each other halfway, and hubby and I try to model this for them with our own behavior as much as possible. But so much of what they’re hearing and seeing in the world through the media is adults with arms crossed and heels dug in refusing to listen, bend a little, and cooperate. This world is not black-and-white, and trying to view life that way just takes us backward. I have many friends on the other end of the idealogical spectrum. Although I sometimes feel misunderstood by them (and likely vice versa) I continue to work at it because we grow only with open minds.

    2. What you say about listening is so true. One thing for sure; we have to listen to learn and learn to listen. To hear is not to listen. It is not the same. It takes no effort to hear. This is if you want to or not. To hear is one of the senses. It is there by nature and has no on and off switch. To listen is not a sense it is a skill. If you want to get the most out of what you hear, you have to listen.

  2. A friend once said to me, “I can never really know you – I can only know the you, you choose to share with me through your words and actions”
    I’ve thought about that and it changed how I view people – I find myself asking, “Really? Can you elaborate? Because you once felt this way about (pick topic) and now, you don’t – will you share what changed your mind?”
    But this hasn’t helped much – – now I get into trouble for having a good memory….
    😀
    This post also reminded me of what the pastor who performed my parents’ wedding said to them:
    “This is not a marriage between just two people – there is who Dallas thinks he is, who you think he is and who he really is – and same for you.
    You will spend a lifetime learning to integrate these six personalities into one union.”

      1. I try mightily to remember that any time two or more are gathered, there’s actually 6 or more personalities to deal with….LOL

  3. Well, I’m concerned about the way you’ve stereotyped artists as painting in one dimension. As an artist, my opinion is blah blah blah……’s kiddin’.

    Do your best to be at peace,

    Paz

  4. I have a few words to say about Monsanto. But rather than say it again, here, I have provided a link to my April 26 blog post “Who Has Got Your Back Now.” It is a video compilation and it ends with an interview I did years ago with a Monsanto representative. The issue then was Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH). I posted the link because your post was calling to me. And the issue is so important to our future and the future of our children and their children and the health and welfare of all of us.
    http://itishowyouthink.com/2013/04/26/who-has-got-your-back-now/

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