I have touched on preconceptions so many times recently, in the context of how it can influence our reactions to people and events. Historically I have used it in the context of “preferences” to races and/or religious beliefs and, more recently, to ever changing fashions.
If you were buying a new car and two sales people were available, one was clean shaven and wearing a business suit, and the other was in shorts and t-shirt, and had many tattoos and body piercings, who would you gravitate towards? Many of us would have the preconceived idea that the “business suit” is more likely to provide professional service. This perspective goes much deeper and should be recognized for what it is… a perspective on something that is rarely founded on anything that can be supported with tangible evidence.
If your first interaction with an Englishman found him to be arrogant and pompous, you could well expect the next one you meet to be similar. After a couple of such encounters, you may assume that all Englishmen are like that and treat them accordingly. While you may not acknowledge any racial/cultural biases on your part, you could in fact end up discriminating against the English! My first introduction to racial sensitivities here in Canada was a few weeks into my first job here. I was told that “You can always tell an Englishman, because you can’t tell him anything.”
While I could steer this into racial intolerance etc., I am instead going look at music!
While we were out with Ray the other evening on a restaurant patio, a pickup truck was across the road from us and being held by a red traffic signal. It was a hot evening and he (the truck driver) had his window way down and his radio way up. We were waiting for our order and, because the music from the truck was very loud and clear, I could not help but listen to it.
There was some very melodic guitar work, accompanied by well balanced percussion and it was lovely to listen to this instrumental interlude. The driver got his green light and was just starting to pull past us, when I waved in order to get his attention, and then shouted across to him “What are you listening to?” He shouted back “Metallica!”
I thought “Metallica? But I don’t like Metallica!”
The following day, I spent some time on iTunes and found the track (“Fade to Black”) and downloaded it along with 13 other tracks! So what’s this all about? It’s about hearing one or two Metallica tracks on the radio a long time ago and deciding that they were not in my music appreciation range. I carried that perception forward 30+ years, and then was confronted quite convincingly with the fact that I was wrong!
It could be argued that my taste in music has changed over time and, to some degree it probably has, although I have always had a pretty broad appreciation of music. I just never associated Metallica with melodic productions, and in fact all I recall from years gone by were their raucous vocals and highly distorted guitars thrashing out chord runs!
Perhaps that arrogant Englishman of years ago did not represent the English males at all? Perhaps in your past you established a negative opinion of a race or particular spiritual belief. While an iTunes check may not help your particular preconception, it may be worthwhile contemplating the basis on which it is founded. Just thinking!