Philosophy Tuesday

September 1, 2015

There’s a chart I saw recently that got me thinking, and examining my own perceptions:

It’s a chart charting the heights of men and women adults in the USA.

A lot more overlap than you might have pictured, eh? There are many women with “men” heights; there are many men with “women” heights.

It is a great reminder how our perceptions can so easily get pushed towards a reductionism, a “putting in the box”.   How we take a trend or a pattern and turn it, inflate them, into extremes.

Yet, here, quite directly, we can see that, even when there is a “predisposition” towards something, things exist on a continuum.

It is not X, or Y. It is not always one way, or the other. It is the old expression of there being no black or white, only shades of grey.

There is a great deal of malleability.

Much of what who we are as people is not even as hard coded as what the “genetic evolution” would push for in the chart above. That chart serves to me as a great reminder to remain aware of our tendencies to group and to pigeonhole. A reminder that we can, instead, remain present and avoid taking the differences between people and improperly ascribing them to something concrete: sex, race, culture, origin, ideology, social status, etc.

There are many factors that give us who we are. It does us no good to limit others, or ourselves, by denying the continuum that exists and denying everyone the opportunity to display who they truly are. Or to deny them the chance to grow and transform.

It also frees us from needing stay confined to a caricature, a narrow view of who we are supposed to be (inside of our cultural identities), and frees us from all the stress that comes with trying to maintain those facades.

We gain the freedom to play.

We give others and ourselves the freedom to be.


One comment

  1. […] Gradients are possible (and normal). […]

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