Shunning stereotypes

Published May 28, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Alex M. Eduque


Recent events have gotten me thinking about stereotypes. More specifically, how vulnerable we all are in being victim to them. Our perception – on people, places and things; cultures, ideologies, beliefs, the list goes on – is typically ruled by stereotypes that come from a multitude of sources – more typically, but not limited to the following: movie portrayals, the impression and experiences of others, and the actions of ancestors, predecessors, and reputation.

We are governed by stereotypes more often than we think, or would like to acknowledge. Oftentimes, our ideas about concepts before we are even exposed, or have experienced them, are formed because of stereotypes, and these heavily influence our thoughts, actions, and first impressions as well. Our notions about people, places, and certain cultures are also shaped by stereotypes, and oftentimes, how Hollywood and pop culture, for instance, choose to portray, emphasize, and play on certain aspects that make for a good movie plot or story. We tend to judge at the onset, and before we know it, our minds are set. But have we ever tried to condition ourselves instead to think the other way? And try to realize that perhaps what really leads us to believe stereotypes, rather than choosing to learn about something, somewhere, or someone, is sheer ignorance?

I say ignorance because we are masters of convincing ourselves about someone or something without even knowing them, or anything about it. Simply judging based on what others have to say, association by action of others who have gone before them, or reputation – the latter perhaps being the most powerful. In Shakespeare’s words, some of which have resonated the most with me since reading Othello: “Reputation is an idle, but most false imposition, oft got without merit, and lost without deserving” (Othello, Iago, Act 2, scene 3).

Yet ironically, in a society where our reputation truly precedes us, we do not have ultimate control in creating it. More often than not, this reputation has been created for us, and not by us, and frankly, there is not much we can do about it. Quite simply put, we can only try our best to make it our own. We live our lives to write our own stories, and at most, we try our hardest to make others see our efforts and attempts at bettering ourselves. Whether or not others perception of us is in accordance with what we want them to see is an uncontrollable variable of being, in the same way that what shapes their opinions is too, out of our control. But what we ourselves can choose to do is to make the conscious effort to keep an open mind, and try to learn something new everyday.

It may sound cliché, but the only way to address ignorance is to open up ones’ mind. Only in this way will one be able to accept fake news as misinformation and not treat it as fact; fix the way in which we see things, disprove doubts, and correct our notions and beliefs. We need to build bridges of communication rather than destroy them, as a means of broadening our perspectives, to further understand the complexities that are inherent to peoples ideologies, customs, upbringing and way of life. Rather than through a common language, we must communicate effectively by means of our values – with respect and empathy at the forefront. Only in this way can we effectively embody the examples for our next generation – in our hopes for them to be kinder, and more compassionate citizens. Ones who know how to love, instead of hate. In a world that can oftentimes be much louder than we need it to be, we must make that extra effort to tune out the unnecessary noise, get rid of the clutter, and enact change. Change can only come from within, and must be accompanied by our willingness to do so.

Now that we are on the brink of transition to a new administration, we must remember all our pleas and cries for change during the campaign period. Now that our leaders have been chosen, we must all route for them together as Team Philippines – with a common vision for growth, and progress; a united goal of wanting what is best for our country, and all of us. Remember, that as conscientious citizens, we must not solely rely and be dependent on our leaders to see change. Rather, we must also make a move every day, in our own capacity, for a better, and brighter tomorrow.