Saturday, November 29, 2014

Generalizations are not only stupid, but very dangerous

When I was eight years old my parents decided to enroll me in one of the American schools in Rio de Janeiro. Not really sure why since we don't have any ties to the US, except for some very close friends in California, whom we consider family. I guess they thought learning English would make a difference in my future. And it did. Immensely. But what my parents gave me right then and there was much more than the simple opportunity to learn a second language. By inserting me in a multicultural environment, they helped me realize, from a very early age, that no two people are alike, despite their shared gender, citizenship, political or religious views - and that generalizations are not only stupid, but very dangerous.

During my Elementary, Middle and High School years I worked on group projects and shared a table in the cafeteria with people from all parts of the world: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Suriname, US, Canada, Hungary, Korea, Japan, Syria, Iraq, to name a few. Some were Catholic, others Jewish, Muslims, Buddhists and even Atheists. But this was a mere detail, just one more thing about each of us and not who we were or what ultimately defined us. 

We were good, bad, nice, naughty, violent, peaceful, boring, nerds, popular or unpopular because of our daily actions and not because we came from this or that place or believed in this or that God or whatever else may be out there to believe or not believe in.  

Not all Brazilians look like Gisele Bundchen, play soccer or do the samba. Not all Argentines like meat or know how to tango. Not all Colombians are drug dealers or cocaine addicts. Not all Germans are Nazis. Not all Jews hate Muslims. Not all Muslims belong to Al Qaeda. 

That is why when I saw this video from CNN earlier today, I couldn't help but agree with Reza Aslan. People should be more responsible, read, learn and get their facts right before they say things or paint everyone with a single brush, especially when these people are media and influence the mass.

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