Monday, 15 August 2011

We all have one thing in common- that we are all different.

I just read a book by Jodi Piccoult called "House Rules". It's a tale about a young teenage boy with Asperger's Syndrome who finds himself on trial after being accused for the murder of his social skills tutor. One word: Amazing. It raises the issue of what it is like to be different in contemporary society; not just for the one who is 'different' but for the family members of that person too.

Different. Odd. Quirky.

Why are these words considered to be bad?

When someone acts in a way that is not considered 'normal' by society, we automatically judge them; we cannot help it.

Is it the archaic societal views that are so heavily embedded into us that it has become our natural default thinking?

We don't mean to, and we have made exceptions for some differences. Ebony and Ivory can now live together in harmony, after many years of oppressive separation. There are some people with quirks- I know someone who gets random chills regardless of the room temperature- and no one bats an eyelid. But its odd isn't it? So why does nobody take notice of these eccentricities yet someone with Autism or Bipolar is feared?

why do we fear what is 'different'?  why do we fear change?

Last Saturday, I was shopping in the city with a friend when we came across a rally- people advocating for the legalization of gay marriage. This prompted a discussion between my friend and I. I admired their determination and pondered why the government was so resistant to grant them this right. My friend said that maybe it was because being in a same-sex marriage was still perceived to be 'unnatural' by some of the world to which I quickly retorted that I was fairly sure that it feels quite natural to them.

I questioned that why could we make exceptions to accept some as they are, but not others? She said that people fear change because they don't know what the outcomes will be.

That is true to some extent- we can not predict with absolute certainty what will be the outcome of all decisions and changes made; but we can start by being more open minded and accepting. This can be done through being more informed about the issues we fear.

Psychology theories have shown that prejudice and fear can be reduced when knowledge is gained. Knowing provides a deeper understanding; which in turn leads to more informed decisions and opinions people form about issues which initially made them feel uneasy and subsequently reducing their fears of what is 'different'.

This is not limited to those with mental illness; this includes homosexuals, asylum seekers; all those who are isolated from nuerotypical (read: 'normal') society because they are 'different' to what societal norms dictate.

As a multicultural nation, our strength should be in diversity- All kinds not just the selective traits that we want to tolerate. 

Difference is nothing to be feared. It is easy to put someone into a category.. but just one final thought:

How would you feel if you were the one who was 'different'?


Sunday, 7 August 2011

the importance of being (insert name here)..

Juliet Capulet once pondered: "what is in a name? A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet." Although I do get that she was really just looking for loopholes for her star- crossed lover, I think she was overlooking a few things.

Does it change the substance of the product or being? Does it add something of value? Or does it do just the opposite?  

 Juliet reasons that if Romeo wasn't called Romeo and wasn't a Montague, he would still be the same guy. So the name really doesn't mean much and it's okay to love him. While that is true, she misses the fact that if Romeo wasn't called Romeo Montague but, say George Invisible, they could've lived happily every after. After all, he's still the same guy, right? Just less tragic. 

So what is in a name?

A name helps us recognize a person or product's reputation.  It creates awareness of their existence and acts as a  promise between the named and namers; that when you hear that name- you know what to expect. Names need to be carefully selected, cultivated and properly maintained because whilst they can be the strongest asset one can have; a wrongly given label can be just as damaging. Whether we admit to it or not, names - good and bad - affect how we see and what we think of commodities/people/businesses. 

I live in a city where everyone almost knows everyone. You could go to a party thinking that you only know that host and when you get there, you discover someone who knows someone that you know.  Creating a name for yourself here would not be terribly difficult as news travels fast. However, if you were ever unfortunate enough to be labelled with a bad name, the news would still travel just as quickly. Actually, that's not true. It would travel faster. Bad news seems always seems to travel faster than good news. Why is that so?  A good brand name is just like trust: it takes years to build but only seconds for it to be destroyed.  On the same token, a bad name is hard to bounce from and turn it around to be good. 

So what is in a name?

Is a name what you make of it? Do you take a word and then make something great for it? Or dos  you find a word which you feel embodies the greatness you wish to achieve?