Let’s break the culture of generalization

When I passed my second (hopefully the last) kidney stone last month, I thought of changing my lifestyle in terms of what I eat and what I drink. I’ve done a couple of research from the internet and I also have to undergo consultations from two different doctors. What’s so surprising is that they don’t seem to be giving a consistent advice in terms of how many glasses of water I should take in one day. The first doctor said it’s ok to drink at least 2 liters per day, the second doctor said it’s ok to have at least 1 liter per day, and a blogger said I must drink as many as I can during the day. So, I asked them, “Why do I need to drink this amount of water per day?” – and they all said “because that is the intake of all normal human beings.” While I believe in the capacity of people to provide estimations backed up by extensive research, it seems like we’re taking it more from a perspective of generalization.

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Many people today don’t realize that generalization can actually affect many decision making aspects in life. One classic example is how we see the culture of other nations. Just because we know some states in the US legalize gay marriage, then it means it’s a population of immoral creatures. Just because NAIA is considered one of the worst airports in the world, then it means all airports in the Philippines are bad. Just because we have terrorists in Mindanao, then it means it is no longer safe to travel and invest in Cagayan de Oro. Just because a person claims to be a Christian, then it means he can no longer experience sorrow. We often see people and situations in a broad manner without examining the details. Because of this, we prematurely give our judgement and jump into a conclusion. So, how do we go away with generalization?

  • Recognize that everyone is unique – Recognizing everyone’s uniqueness will not only make us informed about our differences, but it also allows us to understand why we act differently. A person may have a dominant personality because he leads a team, or a person may have an influential personality because he is a product endorser.
  • Recognize that everyone has a purpose – We have to realize that the differences between people and their situation has a purpose. A person may be gifted with skills in logic because he was meant to deal with analysis, or a person may be physically not equipped to run in a track field because he was meant to deal with indoor charities.
  • Acknowledge the differences – Now that we understand everyone’s uniqueness and that every difference has a purpose, we need to acknowledge that these individual differences will give us a better perspective in terms of decision making. When we allow our minds to welcome small bits of details, we’re taking ourselves away from the a premature judgement of generalization.

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment,each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,  so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8)

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