AND One Is Not a Crowd

August 9th, 2015

The crowds at the beach in the summer stand in stark contrast to the individuals who roam the beach in the other three seasons. I have been noticing how the density of people in any one place makes it easier to genuinely not see individuals, unless we consciously stop to do so.

It is much easier to characterize groups and individuals from afar, when we don’t see the individuals in the group. Any one connection, kind word, question, or conversation can challenge unconscious labels, judgments, or stereotypes of groups of people whose experience we do not know.

AND in the context of a crowd, being true to who we are, less concerned with fitting in, and more aligned with following our individual hearts allows for all sorts of important changes. Stereotypes can be cracked when individual connections are made.

I have heard people judge whole professions—teachers, dentists, lawyers, and custodians, for example—until they know one individually. In order to preserve our mind’s interpretation about how the world works, we will often offer a judgment about a group and then name an exception to the rule, typically the person with whom we have a direct experience.

While outside this week, I have been approached by several individuals with questions. Each time, we struck a conversation that allowed me to truly appreciate the individual and unique circumstances of their lives. These are not people I would necessarily recognize in another context, nor people who are my new best friends. Just individuals with whom I shared a moment in time.

When one person makes a connection, shares a greeting, or offers a kind word, an opening for new insights occurs. I am grateful to each person who stopped to make a connection.

AND I am acutely aware that although we associate with many groups, no one of us is the crowd. We are individuals with stories to offer and kindnesses to share. AND it only takes one to remind others that this is true.

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