A double take was needed this past week in the Village. I was busily planting flowerpots at a local business when the grating sounds of rap rattled by. I looked up expecting to see a kid driving a low-slung model and had to chuckle to myself to see only a red mini-van sitting at the stop sign. Never would I have guessed that noise was belting out of a "mom van." (It was even funnier for me since I also drive a red mom van.)
Because gardening gives the mind ample opportunity for thought, I spent time analyzing my faulty generalization about the music and the van. Generalizations are a valid means of learning, but there are definite limits to their accuracy.
For example, as a fourth-grader who enjoyed American history, I took to heart the war for independence from England and, as a result, tended not to care for anything British, especially their uppity accents -- even though I had no contact with anyone from England. It wasn't until decades later after spending a gardening week at Great Dixter in East Sussex, England, I finally overcame my faulty concept about these lovely people. We seldom get such a fundamental opportunity to set right our misconceptions.
Generalizations are frequently based on our interactions with a few people, sometimes not even the group being discussed but others who share their own personal opinion -- right or wrong. Often it's about people, their country, ethnicity, race, politics or religion. Even height, weight and hair color can become discriminating factors when we generalize about others. Didn't I make two faulty generalizations based on both music and a vehicle? I still have no idea if a grandma or a punk kid was driving. (See, another faulty generalization: rap music = punk kid.)
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.