There is a reason stereotypes exist; people act like them. They are not fair, but they do make for interesting observation. Actions tell a far greater story. In the crux of a moment, people may or may not act within the lines. One choice, a decision or action, can dash or exceed expectations. Each measure based on the stereotype the observer applies.
As I walk through the mix of Singapore one day, finding myself in California the next, I find myself awash in stereotypes. The young and old are playing the other’s role with incredible ease. Cultural norms are easily broken, causing one to wonder if one should have even considered applying them to start with. Even traditional roles of power and authority emerge in a confusing paradox of behaviors. Nothing appears to be as it initial seems to be.
In this context, I wonder if I have looked at myself in the context of my actions. When I hear the question, “you claim to be citizens of the Holy City; you act as though you lean on the God of Israel, named God-of-the-Angel-Armies.” (Isaiah 48.2) I wonder if people see an experience compassion, mercy, and love. Do they know my God through my actions? Do they see my Spirit guide in the decisions I take? Do they experience Divinity through our relationship?
In some ways, wearing a stereotype is not bad. We can wear the stereotype as individuals of compassion with pride. We can embrace the stereotype of engaged mercy. We can proudly fall into an honest accountability stereotype. Each stereotype has its place, yet there always seems to be a “but”.
As I walk and observe, it seems that most stereotypes are just myths. Nobody falls into a consistent pattern. Religion does not make a difference in how people drive. Culture does not automatically mean anyone is smarter than another is. Power and status are not indicators of wisdom.
Today can be different, at least in your life and mine. We can choose to live up to the best. We can be ideal stereotypes.
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