Who is my Neighbour? The pratfalls of the stereotype

Posted: November 27, 2017 by Ty in My Neighbour, Spirituality
Tags: , , , , ,



Brad Paisley & LL Cool J Accidental Racist video: https://youtu.be/QPl-Ss-iJLo

I remember learning the trade of script writing. Whether it was for comics, theatre or cinema it definitely was the challenge of showing over telling anything. It is a medium that the viewer or reader needs to instantly identify where someone’s role falls (for the comic reader this was in the era when 1 to 2 pages would take the story in places that today would see 3-6 issues needed). Enter the love of the stereo type.

What’s that you ask?

C’mon. We all have them. Alberta politics created Harry and Martha as the stereotypical Albertans in the 1990’s. For most of the pre-21st century you know that if a nun in a habit or a collared priest enters a scene it is for a religious reason. A rumpled trench coat-probably a detective. A corrupt politician- thy of the heftier set with the rumpled suit big stone pinky ring and ruddy complexion from imbuing too much “holiday cheer” if you will.

There are also other stereotypes that have emerged in how a gang member dresses depending on the era, type of speech used by certain classes (just think of the Newfie jokes in Canada or Southern jokes in the U.S.)…yet each of these set a specific tone when used in a medium to convey something quickly.

The challenge we face as we continue to sanitize our history, remove critical thought and discourse from the education system, move away from the arts and sciences as the basis for education, and do not allow for free and easy ways for neighbours to gather..well…what happens?

The stereo type takes over the reality. In a world where someone can get their “facts” based on a meme or 140-280 characters in social media the stereotype becomes the facts of life. Even more so, you take in to play isolation, segregation due to labels, and other life struggles where you may believe you are the only one. Then these stereo types can drive further wedges.

What comes from these wedges?

Collaboration. Community. Belonging. Become impossible.

Instead we see a repeat of history. Things we figured out how to solve we throw up our hands as  a society and saw we don’t know what to do.

Whether it was Nazis, KKK, Neo-Nazis, Irish Republican Army, youth gangs, extremists of hatred in all shades and sizes, religious zealots and currently terrorists…. What lies at the core?

Being labelled constantly as the other. Being segregated and stripped of worth. That simple intrinsic worth we all have for simply being human beings and key pieces of the eco-system. We are not people, each of us is an individual person, with a separate story and journey, a separate set of skills, calling of vocation, and place in society. This role moves beyond any stereo type the world wants to place upon you, and is you. Live into the you, you are meant to be.

In fact: Be the person that extends the hand of welcome to the stranger.  For as the old saying goes, there is no strangers just friends we haven’t met yet.

Or from my mentoring days with youth in public schools, churches and the youth criminal justice system it spoke of the transformative power of investing an hour a week in the life of an adolescent for huge results. What does this have to do with breaking down stereotypes you ask?

Simple. There is more wisdom in this than any other idea. A stereotype exists because we are unwilling to see beyond. How do you see beyond? You build a bridge not a wall.

Who is your neighbour?

It can be as simple as the one you share a cup of coffee with to discover about who they truly are beyond the social media stereotype.

What stereotype do you need to step outside of and break bread with to move forward together as one community?

The challenge for you…which stereotype are you going to enter into a discourse with the reality of?

Let’s change our world one cuppa at a time.



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