Monday, May 02, 2005

Nature Versus Nurture

I often wonder what kind of experiences it would take for me to fundamentally change my way of thinking? I mean, I think the way I do because my experiences have validated certain theories. Or at least that is what I think.

I mean perhaps, I think the way I do, because most of the people I am surrounded with also think this way. And when I am confronted with people who think differently, I will usually engage them in a discussion, but most of the time I find their arguments lacking persuasion. And they probably think the same about mine.

For example, I can remember talking to an Iraqi on a train here in Germany way back when in 1999. And at first it was an interesting exchange, but then it became a heated discussion. I asked him his opinion about the head scarf for women. He explained that a woman was like a jewel. A jeweler didn’t want to show his most beautiful jewel in the window, he would keep it locked in a safe, so he could enjoy it all for himself. Obviously my interlocutor wasn’t quite up-to-date with Western selling techniques, because not only will no salesperson hide their most beautiful item if they want to sell it, I wasn’t buying his misogynistic spiel. And I told him as much. And he just said to me: “One day you will understand. One day everyone will understand.” (scary dooms day music in the background) Okay…whatever, loser! …Oh, yes…to make this all the more interesting: this conversation was held in German, so you had two non-native speakers, arguing in German why the other one’s world view was skewed. Obviously, unbeknownst to myself at the time, I had probably run into a member of some sleeper-cell here in Germany. He also criticized my lack of knowledge of Islamic history. However interesting that exchange was, I was very relieved to reach the train station I was to de-board at.

Obviously, my fellow traveler was very convinced of what he was saying, just as much as I was convinced of what I was saying back. But what would it take for me to agree with what he said? And vice versa?


Blogger Chris said...

I think you have already answered it yourself.

It's all about perception.

When perception changes so does ideas.

8:43 PM  
Blogger katiedid said...

You guys were having a conversation, but you were talking about two different things. He was talking about women as possesions, you were talking about women as people. I'd think that overcoming that philosophical obstacle would have to be tackled before you could even begin to make him understand what you were telling him.

I've tried having conversations like that, and as you discovered, sometimes you just end up going in frustrated circles with regard to the subject of women.

1:25 AM  

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